I was going through photographs from my visit to Brazil this past January and came across this forgotten photo of a longhorned beetle taken near Campinas in São Paulo. Although I didn’t recognize the genus immediately, I was rather sure it belonged to the great tribe Trachyderini, generally characterized by medium to large-sized, brightly colored, diurnal (active during the day) species. Knowing this it didn’t take me long to identify the species as Oxymerus aculeatus, occurring from Nicaragua and the West Indies south to Bolivia and Uruguay and, thus, the most widely distributed of the ten species in this exclusively Neotropical genus. As is typical with such widespread species, a few subspecies have also been described—this one should be the nominate subspecies, widely distributed throughout central, eastern, and southeastern Brazil (Hingrid et al 2010).
Like most other members of the family Cerambycidae, O. aculeatus is presumed to utilize dead or dying wood for larval development, but little else is known regarding its habits and host plants. Members of the tribe are often found frequenting flowers, although this and a few other individuals were encountered resting on the underside of foliage on an unidentified tree. The Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services has become concerned about the possible establishment of this species in the U.S. after two recent collections of the West Indian subspecies in south Florida (Thomas 2006). Whether it goes on to have any economic impact remains to be seen, but if recent history with other wood boring beetles is any indication (e.g., Asian longhorned beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis; emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis; etc.) the concern may be warranted.
Thomas, M. C. 2006. Another Neotropical longhorn beetle (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) apparently new to the mainland of Florida. UF/IFAS Pest Alert (website accessed 7 Nov 2011).
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011