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Cottonwood Borer Beetle (Plectrodera scalator)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Cottonwood Borer Beetle, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 11/13/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Cottonwood Borer Beetle  
Picture of Cottonwood-Borer
Picture of Cottonwood-Borer Picture of Cottonwood-BorerPicture of Cottonwood-Borer

The serious threat to Cottonwood, Poplar and Willow tree populations by the Cottonwood Borer is black-and-white.

The Cottonwood Borer is part of the large Long-Horned Beetle family that makes its way throughout the summertime months destroying trees. They are very identifiable by their long antennae ('horns') which are often times longer than the insect's whole body.

With over 1,200 North American long-horned beetles categorized, the Cottonwood Borer is just one of many to study. These particular borers live near river banks and fancy the woods of poplar, willow and cottonwood trees.

The female adult Cottonwood Borer drills holes into the base of the targeted trees to lay her eggs. The larvae of the species are known to destroy trees and logs by reducing the inside wood to sawdust. They also chew on the fragile root system until the tree can no longer gather nutrients or water from the soil.

Adults slowly work their way up to the branches, chewing and destroying them until they ultimately reach the leaves. Given time, these boring beetles can completely decimate series of trees, sometimes eliminating neighborhood blocks of their tree cover.

Picture of the Cottonwood Borer Beetle
Picture of the Cottonwood Borer Beetle

Cottonwood Borer Beetle Information

Category: Beetle
Common Name: Cottonwood Borer Beetle
Scientific Name: Plectrodera scalator

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Coleoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Cerambycidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Plectrodera
       Arrow graphic Species: scalator

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 25 mm to 40 mm (0.975 inches to 1.56 inches)
Identifying Colors: black; yellow; white
Additional Descriptors: marbled, spots, squares, patches, flying, harmful

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arkansas; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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