Nature Notebook – Eastern-eyed Click Beetle

A sharp-eyed naturalist spied this creature sitting on a wooden rail. The students couldn’t see it. If he nudged it a bit to make it move, the camouflage pattern would “disappear.” But, if he nudged it too much…there would have been a lot of screams from the group because the bug would have suddenly emitted a loud click and jumped into the air.

The first line of defense for the Eastern-eyed click beetle are the fake eyes. The colored scales give the illusion of a creature that is larger than the beetle’s actual size. Sensible predators pass on by, not wanting to tangle with prey that they perceive to be bigger than they are.

If the camouflage fails, the click beetle resorts to the action that led to its name. It will bend its head backward then suddenly straighten out. This results in a loud click sound. The sound is startling enough but, the force of the snap also propels the insect several inches into the air. Not exactly what a hungry predator expects. If the click beetle lands on its back (a very vulnerable position), it will click again until it is upright.

Adults feed on nectar, pollen and flowers. Some larvae eat crop roots and others predate on soil invertebrates.