Saturday, June 18, 2011

Prionus californicus

Over 30 years ago I hung out my first blackight trap to attract night flying insects. It was in the early summer along the Wasatch Front of the Rocky Mountains and I really didn't know what to expect. I hung it out behind our barn and after I had watched it for some time with nothing more than midges and water boatmen coming in I left for the house. Then several minutes later my brother came in quite excited and said that there was a big beetle on the sheet. I ran out to see for myself and found the largest beetle I could imagine. It was Prionus californicus and it was almost 2 inches long.

Since then, I've discovered that this insect isn't uncommon at all. In fact in some places it can be a pest of fruit trees. It is a Western species occuring from Colorado to the West Coast. In the North it occurs in southern Canada and ranges south into northern Mexico.

These pictures are of an individual that landed just outside my office west of Fresno this week. I'm not sure where it came from - maybe somebody's apple orchard. Finding it was like finding an old friend.

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