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Red-headed Ash Borer (Neoclytus acuminatus)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Red-headed Ash Borer

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Image Credit: Wade R., taken near the Salt Lake City, UT
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Image Credit: Rhonda of Lansing, Michigan
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Unlike a green and very distant relative, the skinny, yellow-banded Red Headed Ash Borer Beetle works on trees that are dead, dying, or already chopped down.

Updated: 06/19/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Red Headed Ash Borer beetles are related to the Long Horned Borer beetles. The yellow stripes on a reddish-black body are more often seen in wasps than beetles. They are often confused with wasps when seen flying, too. Indeed, they are fine mimics; they are completely harmless to people. Red Headed Ash Borers do not sting or bite. The long back legs sometimes give the beetle the appearance of a cricket, but they are not related to that kind of insect either.

Red Headed Ash Borer larvae feed on vines or shrubs along with sapwood of oak, hickory, and ash trees, but will also chew away at any other downed timber if the bark still remains. They are unwittingly brought indoors by people bringing in stacks of seasoned firewood. Burning the wood kills the larvae inside. If wood is stored for a long time, it is possible the larvae will pupate and emerge as adults. If inside, adult Red Headed Ash Borer Beetles are attracted to light sources, and are typically discovered near them.

Red Headed Ash Borer activity is mainly from March to October throughout much of eastern North America. Their reach is east of the Rocky Mountains, though they have been seen in California.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Garden pest insect icon
Pest insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Cerambycidae
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          Genus: Neoclytus
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            Species: acuminatus

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Neoclytus acuminatus
Other Name(s): Long Horned Borer Beetle
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 4mm to 16mm (0.15" to 0.62")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow; white; black; red; orange
Descriptors: stripes; flying; garden pest; tree pest

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 4mm (0.2in) and 16mm (0.6in)
Lo: 4mm
Md: 10mm
Hi: 16mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Red-headed Ash Borer may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Red-headed Ash Borer. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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