Eyed Click Beetle

Eyed Click BeetleAs we prepared to head out for the last net check of the day, Flo noticed this fellow clinging to a long-sleeved shirt she had hung on the back of her chair.

The Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus) looks like it has two big eyes on an oversized head, but really, those are just spots on the thorax.

The word “click” comes from an unusual behavior.  This passage from a University of Michigan website describes it better than I can:

This species of beetle has a unique method for righting itself after it has been flipped on its back. The beetle has a hinged joint between the head and thorax of its body that allows it to arch its back and then quickly snap the hinge and slam a hard extension of its back into the ground, thus propelling the beetle into the air up to six inches and allowing it to flip over (Evans and Bellamy 1996). (source)

Indeed, if you grab the beetle between the thorax and abdomen, it will make this movement between your fingers:

Eyed Click Beetle

Instead of tagging along for the last net check and helping take down the nets, I selfishly stayed behind in the hopes of watching the beetle demonstrate its unique behavior.

Eyed Click Beetle - Waiting for the Click

I was punished for my selfishness.  He never flipped for me.


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19 thoughts on “Eyed Click Beetle

  1. As far as I know, we don’t have those here in Hawaii, but I have seen them elsewhere. They’re really cool beetles – both in appearance and behavior. Your non-flipping model was probably recovering from the terror of being handled and photographed!

    Bobbie

  2. I live in Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania. Around 5 p.m. yesterday afternoon, my husband and I had a visit from 2 of these beetles. The first one flew at us while we were sitting under our patio. My husband swatted it and it fell to the ground. When he tried to move it, it “hopped” in the air . . . almost like a grass hopper. Then, it played “dead”. I ran in to get my camera, and took a few photos. I posted it to my Wall on Facebook; however, no one had ever seen it before. Then, this evening, a “friend” from Las Vegas gave me this website and voila, here it is. An “eyed click beetle” . . .

  3. We found an eyed click beetle at Lake Tahoe. However, the descriptions of it say that its range is in the Eastern United States. Is there a California species?

  4. Just found one this evening! I’m in Richmond, Virginia. He flipped three times and scared the tar out of me. The flips were loud and high! So amazing.

  5. My wife just found one on our back porch here in Starkville, Miss. They seem to tuck in their legs somehow, like a turtle, but it definitely can flip itself and does so when threatened.

  6. I found one yesterday clinging to my shirt hanging on the clothesline. What a beautiful specimen! This morning within 20 sec I was able to find this site and give it a name. The internet is amazing. I posted it on FB already hoping someone would tell me the name. Mine didn’t “click” which would have been pretty shocking since I had the camera inches above him.

  7. had one at Quail Hollow CC in Charlotte, NC today. I’ve seen them as well in NJ but didn’t bother to look them up till now to find out what it was. Was an interesting find on a blazing hot NC day.

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