Eastern Eyed Click Beetle

I had a little visitor when I was out back hand washing the hummingbird feeders today. The Eastern Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus) is the largest of the 965 species of click beetles of North America. As you can probably guess, this one gets its common name from the pair of false eyes on its back. Presumably, these eyes are an adaptation to dissuade birds from scooping up this tasty treat.

The larvae of click beetles, called “wireworms,” are an important source of food for birds, especially those that forage on the ground. I suspect that the Eastern Towhees that nest in the woods behind our house utilize them.

I’ve probably seen these beetles before in my life and have never paid them any mind. Click beetles are relatively common. I can remember the smaller ones clicking up off of their backs when we’d harass them as kids. It’s only now that I’m appreciating their importance for other living things, and, in the case of this one, their sometimes eerie beauty.

Source: Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Douglas W. Tallamy, pp.244-245.

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