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Longhorn beetle

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Temporal range: Aptian–Recent
Batus barbicornis
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Infraorder: Cucujiformia
Superfamily: Chrysomeloidea
Family: Cerambycidae
Latreille, 1802 [1]

Eight; see text

The longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae), also known as long-horned or longicorns (whose larvae are often referred to as roundheaded borers), are a large family of beetles, with over 35,000 species described.[2]

Most species are characterized by antennae as long as or longer than the beetle's body. A few species have short antennae (e.g., Neandra brunnea), making them difficult to distinguish from related families such as Chrysomelidae. "Cerambycidae" comes from a Greek mythological figure: after an argument with nymphs, the shepherd Cerambus is transformed into a large beetle with horns.

Longhorn beetles are found on all continents except Antarctica.[3]


Other than the typical long antennal length, the most consistently distinctive feature of adults of this family is that the antennal sockets are located on low tubercles on the face; other beetles with long antennae lack these tubercles, and cerambycids with short antennae still possess them. They otherwise vary greatly in size, shape, sculpture, and coloration. A number of species mimic ants, bees, and wasps, though a majority of species are cryptically colored. The titan beetle (Titanus giganteus) from northeastern South America is often considered the largest insect (though not the heaviest, and not the longest including legs), with a maximum known body length of just over 16.7 cm (6.6 in).[4]

Larvae are 0.5–22 cm (0.20–8.66 in) long, elongate in shape and lightly sclerotised. The prothorax is often enlarged and the sides of the body have lateral swellings (ampullae). The head is usually retracted into the prothorax and bears well-sclerotised mouthparts. Larval legs range from moderately developed to absent. The spiracles are always annular.[5]

The larva of the fig-tree borer, Phryneta spinator, has the shape typical of larvae of Cerambycidae, straight and legless, termed apodous eruciform, but on some of its segments it has swellings that aid in locomotion, especially in the tunnels it chews through wood.


Light brown longhorn beetle with off white spots
Eburia quadrigeminata, the Ivory Marked Borer


All known longhorn beetle larvae feed on plant tissue such as stems, trunks, or roots of both herbaceous and woody plants, often in injured or weak trees.[6] A few species are serious pests. The larvae, called roundheaded borers, bore into wood, where they can cause extensive damage to either living trees or untreated lumber (or, occasionally, to wood in buildings; the old-house borer, Hylotrupes bajulus, is a particular problem indoors).

Many longhorns locate and recognize potential hosts by detecting chemical attractants, including monoterpenes (compounds released en masse by woody plants when stressed), ethanol (another compound emitted by damaged plant material), and even bark beetle pheromones. Many scolytine weevils share the cerambycid's niche of weakened or recently deceased trees; thus, by locating scolytinids, a suitable host can likely be located as well. The arrival of cerambycid larvae is often detrimental to a population of scolytinids, as the cerambycid larvae will typically either outcompete them with their greater size and mobility, or act as direct predators of them (this latter practice is less common, but has been observed in several species, notably Monochamus carolinensis). Cerambycids, in turn, have been found to play a role in attracting other wood-borers to a host.[7] Borgemeister, et al. 1998, recorded that cerambycid activity in girdled twigs released volatiles attractive to some bostrichids, especially Prostephanus truncatus.[8] A few cerambycids, such as Arhopalus sp., are adapted to take advantage of trees recently killed or injured by forest fires by detecting and pursuing smoke volatiles.


In addition to feeding on other plant tissue, some species feed on pollen or nectar and may act as pollinators. Assessing the efficacy of beetle pollinators is difficult. Even if pollination of one species by beetles is shown, that same beetle may also act as a flower predator toward other species. In some cases, beetles may act as both pollinators and predators on the same flowers.[9]

Flowers specializing in pollination by beetles typically display a particular set of traits, but pollination by longhorn beetles is not limited to these cantharophilous flowers. A review of angiosperm pollination by beetles shows that Cerambycidae, along with Curculionidae and Scarabaeidae, contains many taxa that are pollinators for not only specialist but also generalist systems.[10]

Beetles in the New Zealand genus Zorion are known to feed on pollen and have a specialized structure similar to that of pollen baskets found in bees.[11] Species in this genus are thought to be important pollinator species for native plants such as harakeke.[12]

Some orchid species have been found to be largely reliant on longhorn beetles for pollination. The species Alosterna tabacicolor was found to be the main pollinator of a rare orchid species (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) in Poland.[13] Another rare orchid Disa forficaria, found in the Cape Floristic Region in South Africa, relies on the species Chorothyse hessei for pollination. D. forficaria uses sexual deception targeting male C. hessei, possibly indicating a long history of co-evolution with longhorn beetle pollinators.[14]

Flower visiting species, Zorion guttigerum.

The proportion of longhorn beetle species that act as pollinators is unknown. The fact that two species of longhorn species from distinct subfamilies (Lepturinae and Cerambycinae) found on different continents both with significant roles as pollinators could suggest that some capacity for pollination may be common among longhorn beetles.



In North America some native cerambycids are the hosts of Ontsira mellipes (a parasitoid wasp in the family Braconidae).[15] O. mellipes may be useful in controlling a forestry pest in this same family, Anoplophora glabripennis, that is invasive in North America.[15]


Decora longicorn (Amphirhoe decora)

As with many large families, different authorities have tended to recognize many different subfamilies, or sometimes split subfamilies off as separate families entirely (e.g., Disteniidae, Oxypeltidae, and Vesperidae);[16] there is thus some instability and controversy regarding the constituency of the Cerambycidae.[17] There are few truly defining features for the group as a whole, at least as adults, as there are occasional species or species groups which may lack any given feature; the family and its closest relatives, therefore, constitute a taxonomically difficult group, and relationships of the various lineages are still poorly understood.[18] The oldest unambiguous fossils of the family are Cretoprionus and Sinopraecipuus from Yixian Formation of Inner Mongolia and Liaoning, China, dating to the Aptian stage of the Early Cretaceous, approximately 122 million years ago. The former genus was assigned to the subfamily Prioninae in its original description, while the latter could not be placed in any extant subfamily.[19][20] Qitianniu from the mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber of Myanmar, dating to approximately 100 million years ago, also could not be placed in any extant subfamily.[21]

Gerania bosci
Anoplophora chinensis


The eight subfamilies are:[22][23]

Most species (90.5%) are concentrated in the Cerambycinae and Lamiinae subfamilies.[3]

Notable genera and species[edit]

Common tuft bearing longhorn beetle (Aristobia approximator)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cerambycidae Latreille, 1802". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  2. ^ "The first long-horned beetle giving birth to live young discovered in Borneo". Science Daily. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  3. ^ a b Rossa, R.; Goczał, J. (2021-01-01). "Global diversity and distribution of longhorn beetles (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)". The European Zoological Journal. 88 (1): 289–302. doi:10.1080/24750263.2021.1883129. ISSN 2475-0263.
  4. ^ Barclay, Max (2010). "Titanus giganteus Linnaeus (1771)". Natural History Museum. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  5. ^ "Wood Boring Beetle Families - Cerambycidae". idtools.org. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  6. ^ Kariyanna, B; Mohan, M & Gupta, Rajeev (2017). "Biology, ecology and significance of longhorn beetles (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)". Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies. 5: 1207–1212. ISSN 2320-7078.
  7. ^ Allison, Jeremy D.; Borden, John H.; Seybold, Steven J. (2004). "A review of the chemical ecology of the Cerambycidae". Chemoecology. 14: 123–150. doi:10.1007/s00049-004-0277-1. S2CID 1995065 – via ResearchGate.
  8. ^ Borgemeister, Christian; Goergen, George; Tchabi, Atti; Awande, Symphorien; Markham, Richard H.; Scholz, Dagmar (1998). "Exploitation of a woody host plant and cerambycid-associated volatiles as host-finding clues by the larger grain borer". Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 91 (5): 741–747. doi:10.1093/aesa/91.5.741 – via ResearchGate.
  9. ^ Gottsberger, Gerhard (1977), Kubitzki, Klaus (ed.), "Some Aspects of Beetle Pollination in the Evolution of Flowering Plants", Flowering Plants: Evolution and Classification of Higher Categories Symposium, Hamburg, September 8–12, 1976, Plant Systematics and Evolution / Entwicklungsgeschichte und Systematik der Pflanzen, Vienna: Springer, pp. 211–226, doi:10.1007/978-3-7091-7076-2_14, ISBN 978-3-7091-7076-2, retrieved 2023-10-18
  10. ^ Bernhardt, Peter (2000), Dafni, Amots; Hesse, Michael; Pacini, Ettore (eds.), "Convergent Evolution and Adaptive Radiation of Beetle-Pollinated Angiosperms", Pollen and Pollination, Vienna: Springer, pp. 293–320, doi:10.1007/978-3-7091-6306-1_16, ISBN 978-3-7091-6306-1, retrieved 2023-10-18
  11. ^ Schnitzler, Franz-Rudolf; Wang, Qiao (2005-10-18). "Revision of Zorion Pascoe (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae), an endemic genus of New Zealand". Zootaxa. 1066 (1): 1–42. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.1066.1.1. ISSN 1175-5334.
  12. ^ "Meet our pollinators | EPA". www.epa.govt.nz. Retrieved 2023-10-17.
  13. ^ Gutowski, Jerzy M. (1990-01-01). "Pollination of the orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii by longhorn beetles in primeval forests of Northeastern Poland". Biological Conservation. 51 (4): 287–297. Bibcode:1990BCons..51..287G. doi:10.1016/0006-3207(90)90114-5. ISSN 0006-3207.
  14. ^ GASKETT, ANNE C. (2012-04-17). "Floral shape mimicry and variation in sexually deceptive orchids with a shared pollinator". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 106 (3): 469–481. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2012.01902.x. ISSN 0024-4066.
  15. ^ a b "PPQ Scientists Evaluate Wasp's Ability to Detect and Attack the Asian Longhorned Beetle". PPQ (Plant Protection and Quarantine). USDA APHIS. Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  16. ^ Vanin, Sergio Antonio & Ide, Sergio (2002). "Classificação comentada de Coleoptera" [An annotated classification of the Coleoptera]. In C. Costa; S. A. Vanin; J. M. Lobo & A. Melic (eds.). Proyecto de Red Iberoamericana de Biogeografía y Entomología Sistemática PrIBES 2002 (PDF). Monografias Tercer Milenio (M3M) (in Portuguese). Vol. 3. pp. 193–206. ISBN 84-922495-8-7.
  17. ^ Monné, Miguel A. (2006). "Catalogue of the Cerambycidae (Coleoptera) of the Neotropical Region. Part III. Subfamilies Parandrinae, Prioninae, Anoplodermatinae, Aseminae, Spondylidinae, Lepturinae, Oxypeltinae, and addenda to the Cerambycinae and Lamiinae" (PDF excerpt). Zootaxa. 1212: 1–244. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.1212.1.1. ISBN 1-877407-96-8.
  18. ^ Arnett, et al. (2002). American Beetles, Vol. 2. CRC Press, 861 pp.
  19. ^ Wang, Bo; Ma, Junye; McKenna, Duane D.; Yan, Evgeny V.; Zhang, Haichun; Jarzembowski, Edmund A. (2013-08-09). "The earliest known longhorn beetle (Cerambycidae: Prioninae) and implications for the early evolution of Chrysomeloidea". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 12 (5): 565–574. doi:10.1080/14772019.2013.806602. ISSN 1477-2019. S2CID 86312026.
  20. ^ Yu, Yali; Ślipiński, Adam; Reid, Chris; Shih, ChungKun; Pang, Hong; Ren, Dong (January 2015). "A new longhorn beetle (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) from the Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota of Western Liaoning in China". Cretaceous Research. 52: 453–460. Bibcode:2015CrRes..52..453Y. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2014.02.019.
  21. ^ Lin, Mei-Ying; Bai, Ming (July 2017). "Qitianniu zhihaoi gen. et sp. nov.: The first cerambycid beetle found in Cretaceous Burmese amber (Coleoptera: Chrysomeloidea)". Cretaceous Research. 75: 173–178. Bibcode:2017CrRes..75..173L. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2017.03.030.
  22. ^ Bouchard, Patrice; Bousquet, Yves; Davies, Anthony E.; Alonso-Zarazaga, Miguel A.; Lawrence, John F.; Lyal, Chris H. C.; Newton, Alfred F.; Reid, Chris A. M.; Schmitt, Michael; Ślipiński, S. Adam; Smith, Andrew B. T. (2010). "Family-group names in Coleoptera (Insecta)". ZooKeys (88): 1–972. Bibcode:2011ZooK...88....1B. doi:10.3897/zookeys.88.807. PMC 3088472. PMID 21594053. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21.
  23. ^ Švácha, P.; Lawrence, J. (2014). "2.4. Cerambycidae Latreille, 1802" (PDF). In Leschen, R.A.B.; Beutel, R.G. (eds.). Handbook of Zoology, Arthropoda: Insecta; Coleoptera, Beetles, Volume 3: Morphology and Systematics (Phytophaga). Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 77–177. doi:10.1515/9783110274462.77. ISBN 978-3-11-027446-2.

Further reading[edit]

  • Monné, Miguel A. & Hovore, Frank T. (2005) Electronic Checklist of the Cerambycidae of the Western Hemisphere. PDF Cerambycids.com

External links[edit]