Click beetles

By Alicia Alexander, IPM Intern

The eyed click beetle, Alaus oculatus, and one of the common agricultural pest species (below). Photo credit: Pat Porter. 

Most click beetles are dull and small to medium sized with little or no ornamentation. However, some species can get up to 2 inches long and can be luminescent or brightly colored. Click beetles get their name from the clicking sound they make when turned on their back and attempting to flip over. The click beetle is able to do this my snapping the first section of its thorax into a groove in the second section of the thorax. This snapping action makes the clicking noise you hear and launches the beetle into the air several inches. This trick is also used to try and startle predators. Another trick click beetles are known to do is tucking in their legs and antenna close to the body and playing dead. Many species are nocturnal and will hide during the day. They are attracted to light and can sometimes show up in homes but are not harmful. Adult click beetles feed on nectar.

Larvae of the click beetle are often called wireworms. Resembling mealworms in a way, wireworms are slender, long, shiny, and a yellowish to dark brown color. They’re segmented and found in the soil or decaying wood feeding on plants and sometimes insects. Some species of these grubs are serious agricultural pests and feed on the roots of plants, like corn and cotton. Click beetles can be in the larval stage for one or more years depending on the species.

The big-eyed elater (Aggie Horticulture)

Click beetles at Wikipedia