What is This Big Black and White Bug with the Huge Eye Spots?

The more I explore the same park the more new birds, animals, plants and insects I discover. So when I walked along a grassy path whose edges were strewn with silvery dead logs, I was not unduly surprised to see a fascinating new insect instead of the sunbathing dragonflies and actively hunting Tiger Beetles I was expecting. This creature was mostly black with fine white marks but what made it so obvious was the huge black eye spots rimmed with white eye rings.

Photo of Eyed Click Beetle from Side on NaturalCrooksDotCom
You can see that the beetle is actually fairly flat and thin even though it’s long.

What Type of Insect Has these Large Black Eyes?

I still don’t own a comprehensive insect guide but I do have a copy of the Peterson First Guides: Insects by Christopher Leahy. I expected my insect to be a common one and it is: it’s an Eyed Click Beetle.

These are big insects. The one I saw was about 5 cm (2 inches) long.

Why Are They Called Click Beetles?

When I showed the photos to my husband later that day he remarked that he had seen many of them in his adventure-filled youth.

Photo of Eyed Click Beetle Head on on NaturalCrooksDotCom
I tried to get a look at its real eyes but I couldn’t get the right angle without spooking it.

I had read in the Guide that these beetles make a sharp click sound when they flip themselves right side up if turned over. I asked him if he’d ever heard it. Yes. And apparently they will click repeatedly if you hold them and prevent them from flipping.

I generally don’t touch and try not to disturb anything I find on my rambles so I had not flipped this one, nor will I flip it if I find it again. It was satisfying, though, to hear from an ear-witness that it works.

Do Eyed Click Beetles Eat Dead Wood?

The adult beetles do not eat wood but they sometimes hide in dead wood and under loose bark.

Photo of Eyed Click Beetle on Log on NaturalCrooksDotCom
The eye spots are intended to scare away predators. The black and white colouring, though, also provides some camoflage.

The larvae of most Click Beetles feed on roots. The larvae of the Eyed Click Beetles, however, most commonly feed on the larvae of other insects that feed on dead wood. For example, they may eat the larvae of Long Horned Beetles, according to BugGuide.net. I wonder if they’d enjoy some Asian Long-Horned Beetle larvae? I sure hope so.

It was interesting to see this creature and I’m glad it was out when I passed by. A few minutes later I tried to show it to another nature lover but it had already moved on. I guess that’s why it’s important to explore often if you want to see the most.

On the same walk I also encountered a pretty, new butterfly which I will introduce in another article.

Related Reading

Join In
Have you encountered an Eyed Click Beetle? Was it perched or flying in circles around your porch light? Please share your sighting with a comment.

10 thoughts on “What is This Big Black and White Bug with the Huge Eye Spots?

  1. I live in central Florida and I found one today. It was swimming in a bucket of water so I picked it up ( with a leaf, I didn’t want to touch it either) and put him on a tree. I have never seen one before. It was pretty cool looking! I Google Drive it and found this, thanks naturalcrooks!

  2. I found one this morning walking into my house as I had my slider open to get some fresh air. I also live in central Florida near the coast. I had never seen one before hence me looking it up to see what it was. I love Florida, it has the strangest looking creatures..

  3. We found one crawling through the grass in our backyard in Kitchener, Ontario. I’ve come across many bugs over the years and can honestly say I had never seen anything like this… ever. And yes, it did indeed “click” when I touched it, though it wasn’t on its back.

    Very cool. Thanks to your article I now know what it was!


  4. We had one flying around our 3rd floor balcony in Kettering Ohio. Have lived here 62 yrs and have never seen one.

    • They can be quite intimidating when they fly so I hope it wasn’t too startling! I had one trying to land on me two weeks ago, and had to shoo it down. Thanks for sharing your sighting!

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