Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may recall my fascination with a certain beetle that we call the "amorpha borer", Megacyllene decora. I first laid eyes on the bug three summers ago, and instantly became fascinated with the gorgeous insect. I was with some topnotch field people, and none of us knew what it was in spite of the animal's extremely showy and distinctive appearance.
In an effort to learn more about the beetle, we organized The Great Borer Expedition I, last summer. Success came our way, and we found two of the beetles. But only two, and that was after several hours of searching appropriate habitat.
Eric Eaton, who first identified our beetle for us after we couldn't find it in any books, I don't know of anyone outside of our expedition members who has actually seen one of these things in the wild, in Ohio. Eric lived in the Ohio River town of Cincinnati for eleven years, yet only saw one of these beetles in that time.
Anyway, Megacyllene decora is quite host-specific, apparently, using only plants in the genus Amorpha, which are part of the pea family (Fabaceae). In Ohio, that leaves only the plant in this photo, false indigo, Amorpha fruticosa. It reaches its NATIVE northern limits along the banks of the Ohio, although it is widely introduced and established northward. So, one must look for good-sized stands of this stuff on or near the Ohio's river banks, then start searching flowering patches of late-flowering thoroughwort, Eupatorium serotinum, and early goldenrod, Solidago juncea. The adult beetles come to these plants to seek nectar.
Even the fabled Bug Guide website has but eight photos of this beauty, which is circumstantial evidence of how rare the beetle may be. If it were widespread and frequently seen, I can about guarantee that there would be plenty of other photos. And of those eight photos, one is mine, and two are of pinned specimens.
Heather Aubke, Derek Hennen, John's son Andy who has had his fill with the beetle-hunting by this time, and Nina Harfmann.
I appreciate everyone who participated in this year's Borer Expedition. And of course, we didn't just see the borer - scads of other interesting life forms were noted and photographed. I could probably make 20 blog posts from trips like this and all of the stuff that we find.
If you know anything, anything at all, about Megacyllene decora the amorpha borer, especially based on firsthand field experience, please let me know.