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Derobrachus geminatus

Derobrachus geminatus
Derobrachus geminatus.png
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Cerambycidae
Subfamily: Prioninae
Genus: Derobrachus
Species: D. geminatus
Binomial name
Derobrachus geminatus
LeConte, 1853 [1]

Derobrachus geminatus, known variously as the palo verde beetle, palo verde root borer, or palo verde borer beetle, is a longhorn beetle native to the American Southwest and northern Mexico which derives its name from the palo verde tree. It is one of the largest beetles in North America and can reach up to three and a half inches in length. Derobrachus adults are black or brown in color, have long antennae, and spines on the thorax which form a collar around the "neck" of the beetle. They have wings and can fly, albeit awkwardly at times. Mature beetles emerge in the summer to mate. Adults do not eat, and rely solely on their energy reserves until they die in about one month. Not harmful to humans, but can bite if forced to defend itself.[2][3][4]

Derobrachus hatches from eggs into grubs, which live underground for as many as three years; as a result, the huge grubs can be uncovered by gardeners doing routine yard maintenance, especially in flower beds surrounding lawns which contain susceptible trees. The larvae are cream colored to pale green, typically with a brown headcap, and feed on the roots of trees, causing branch dieback. In the wild the most commonly affected tree is the palo verde, although wild specimens of other Parkinsonia species (P. florida, P. microphylla and P. sonorae among the most common) are attacked as well.

The insect can cause significant mechanical damage to the roots of individual trees during its larval phase. Unfortunately due to its cryptic nature, infestation by D. geminatus may not be detected until tree mortality is unavoidable. In urban areas (such as parks, college campuses, cemeteries and the like) where species of Parkinsonia are not often found, D. geminatus can feed on the roots of a variety of trees, including the Siberian elm, white and fruitless mulberry, various cottonwoods and, in the warmest desert areas, citrus.


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