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Where's the Elderberry Longhorn Beetle?

Main Project Information
Goal Help Drexel Univ learn how this beetle's populations change.
Task Search for this beetle and upload your pictures!
Where Where's the Elderberry Longhorn Beetle?

Hi, my name is Dr. Dan Duran and I'm an evolutionary biologist and entomologist at Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) and I need your help finding "Desmond," an Elderberry Longhorn Beetle, formally known as *Desmocerus palliatus!*

This *beautiful* beetle species used to live throughout a large part of eastern North America but in recent decades it appears as if it has declined in numbers. We need your help to figure out if and why this might be true and how we can help them move back into areas they once lived.

The Elderberry Longhorn Beetle is easy to spot with its bold patterns of blue and gold and long antennae. It's so attractive, in fact, that it was chosen for a USPS stamp design in 1999! I can't promise you'll find one, but if you keep an eye out, you might have a chance at seeing one of these impressive creatures. They come out at different times in different places, but June is often a good time to see them.

How to Join

**Where might you find Desmond?**
Your best bet is to find elderberry plants! Although Elderberry Longhorn Beetles will fly around and land on a variety of plants, they are usually not far from the elderberry plants that they need to complete their life cycle.

Elderberry (*Sambucus*) is typically shrub-sized, but it may get as large as a small tree. It has white flowers arranged in loose clumps or “sprays” and leaves that form clusters of 5-7 smaller leaflets. Although there are a few other common plants with similar white flowers, such as Queen Anne’s Lace (*Daucus carota*), other such plants will not have similar leaves and be shrub sized. The pictures above will help you to recognize an elderberry plant (click on the photos for more detail).

Our native elderberry species are most commonly found in moist areas like river edges, wetlands, or retention ponds. In recent years there has been a renewed interest in using native plants in gardens, so elderberry has become more common in back yards.

If enough people plant elderberries it might just provide enough habitat for these beetles to sustain their populations and move back into areas where they once lived!

**How will you recognize an Elderberry Longhorn Beetle?**
It has a fairly large body (about an inch long) with a bold, beautiful pattern of dark blue and gold (see photos) and very long antennae, almost as long as its body (hence the “longhorn” part of its name).

**When might you spot Desmond or his relatives?**
From mid-spring through late summer, but this can vary quite a lot depending on where you live. It seems like early June is a common time of year to see them in eastern Pennsylvania and a number of other places. We are looking for more data on their activity, so help us keep an eye out for them any warm time of year.

**What do you do if you see an Elderberry Longhorn Beetle?**
If you think see an Elderberry Longhorn Beetle simply take a picture of it with your camera or camera-phone. Then click on the join button (The orange button to the left) and post your photo and location. Fill in as much information as you know about what you observe and one of our experts will examine your photo and may get back to you via email or through the message board.

Social Media
Required Gear

camera or camera-phone

Ideal Age Group Elementary school (6 - 10 years), Middle school (11 - 13 years), High school (14 - 17 years), College, Graduate students, Adults, Families
Spend the Time outdoors
Type of Activity On a walk, run, On a hike, At home
Media Mentions
and Publications
Tags desmocerus palliatus, elderberry beetle, elderberry borer, elderberry longhorn
Project Updated 01/30/2018