Facts: Click beetles are generally brown or black in color. They are elongated and flattened and quite similar in shape. Many of them are rather small and under 1/2 inch in length while a few are over two inches long. The large eyed elater, Alaus oculatus, and other members of this genus have conspicuous eye spots on the pronotum.
Click beetles get their name from the behavior they exhibit when placed on their back. They tense the body and thrust the pronotum downward with a sharp clicking sound. This action flips the beetle into the air for several inches and they usually land right side up after this maneuver.
The click beetle genus Pyrophorus has eye spots that bioluminesce. The eye
spots stay glowing for long periods and can be seen for over a hundred feet
away on a dark night. The ability to bioluminesce is well known in the firefly
family, Lampyridae, but is uncommon in other insect groups.
Photo credit: B. M. Drees
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Last modified: January 16, 2003 by John A. Jackman