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An "Eyed" Click Beetle

Eyed click beetle, Alaus occulatus
By Henryhartley (Own work), via
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Wikimedia Commons
Eyed click beetle, Alaus occulatus

Alaus oculatus can reach a length of about 25–45 millimetres (1.0–1.8 in). They have an elongated body, black in color throughout. The pronotum exhibits a large oval patch of darker scales, framed in white, on each side - the common name of the beetle derives from this feature. The elytra are striated and mottled with silvery whitish scales. The "false eyes" depicted on the pronotum are a defensive adaption designed to confuse or frighten potential predators. The eyespots are a form of self-mimicry, in which one part of the body has adapted to mimic another body part. Like all click beetles, A. oculatus is also capable of suddenly catapulting itself out of danger by releasing the energy stored by a click mechanism, which consists of a stout spine on the prosternum and a matching groove in the mesosternum.

Rudy Mancke served as naturalist and co-host of South Carolina ETV's NatureScene, which began its long run in 1978. His field trips, broadcast nationwide, have earned him a legion of dedicated viewers. Rudy's knowledge of the complex inner-workings of different ecosystems and his great admiration for the natural world make him the perfect guide. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation and the Garden Club of America honored his commitment to resource conservation with special awards. Since retiring from SCETV, Rudy has gone on to teach at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.