Relic lumberjack

The relict lumberjack is a prominent representative of the Coleoptera order. This insect has impressive dimensions, long whiskers and many other memorable external characteristics. The animal got its name in connection with behavioral and physical addictions: a tree for lumberjacks is a home, serves as food for them. Other features of this insect are described in this publication.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Relic Woodcutter

Photo: Relic Woodcutter

The relic lumberjack has many other names. It is often referred to as a relic or Ussuri barbel, Ussuri woodcutter. In Latin, the animal is called Callipogon relictus. Lumberjacks belong to the family of barbels, subfamily prionin. They are prominent representatives of a large order of Coleoptera. In Eurasia, this insect is recognized as the largest beetle.

Video: Relic woodcutter

The relic lumberjack is one of the most “ancient” inhabitants on our planet. He was a witness, a direct participant in many changes that took place on Earth many years ago. It is deservedly called “the embodiment of the era”, “living fossil”. In addition, the Ussuri longhorned beetle is the only tropical beetle of the Callipogon genus living in Europe, Asia, and Africa. All other representatives of this genus live exclusively in America.

The lumberjack is unique not only in its origin, history. This beetle differs from the rest in behavioral factors. So, its buzzing is not quite typical for beetles, it is very reminiscent of a continuous, loud buzz.

The relic woodcutter has some differences from other beetles of its kind. He has absolutely smooth, not so pronounced upper jaws. The back of the body is much longer. For this reason, externally, the whiskers look much shorter than those of other beetles of the genus. The eyes of the animal are close together on the crown, and there are spikes instead of notches on the edges of the prothorax.

Appearance and features

Photo: Relic woodcutter insect

Photo: Relic woodcutter insect

The Ussuri longhorn is the largest insect in Eurasia. Males can reach a length of one hundred and ten millimeters, females do not grow more than ninety millimeters. The color of the beetles is characteristic – black or pitch black. The legs are also painted black, and the elytra have a brownish chestnut hue. Only on the pronotum, the insect has two small light spots.

A characteristic external feature of such beetles are long whiskers. The antennae of males are longer than those of females. Sometimes they exceed a third of the length of the entire body. Males also have more impressive mandibles. Their size usually exceeds the size of the male's head several times. At the end of the mandible bifurcated. Lower jaws, lip covered with felt. It is very thick and orange colored. The mandibles of females are shorter than the head.

All Ussuri barbels have wings and good endurance. They are able to fly long distances. However, their flight process looks awkward. Large individuals fly slowly, encountering difficulties during ascent.

Relic lumberjack has a convex, slightly narrowed pronotum. Its elytra are long, slightly narrowed in the second half. On the elytra there are small dots, strokes. Females have more dots, males have more strokes.

Where does the relic lumberjack live?

Photo: Relic Woodcutter Red Book

Photo: Relic Woodcutter Red Book book

The Ussuri longhorned beetle is a rather rare insect, unlike other longhorn beetles. The natural habitat of this animal is Asia, Europe and Russia. The most common lumberjack in the Russian Federation. The northwestern border of the habitat is in the Amur Region. The largest number of such beetles was found near the town of Raychikhinsk. Individual individuals were found in the following areas: Mazanovsky, Arkharinsky, Selemdzhinsky.

In a small number, this species of insects was unexpectedly found in the Norsky, Khingan reserves. Now it is heavily protected in the territories of these reserves, because the relic woodcutter is on the verge of complete extinction. The Khabarovsk Territory is also included in the natural range. There, the beetle inhabits the north of Khabarovsk, Primorsky Krai, and the Jewish Autonomous Region. The northern border of the range passes in the village of Ekimchan.

Many other species of barbel live on the territory of the natural range of the relic woodcutter. How to distinguish Callipogon relictus? These beetles never hide their antennae under them, unlike their closest relatives. They can only throw them behind the back.

Also, the natural habitat of this animal includes the territories of South Korea, Northeast China, and the DPRK. The species lives in nemoral forests there.

What does the relict lumberjack eat?

Photo: Relic lumberjack in Russia

Photo: Relic lumberjack in Russia

Relic lumberjacks belong to a very numerous order of insects – hardwings. Their name alone speaks volumes – the whole life of these animals is somehow connected with wood. Barbels are especially fond of broad-leaved, sometimes pine trees.

Their diet consists of:

  • tree sap;
  • bark of young branches.

Adult beetles love to feast on the sap of elm, linden, birch, and other trees. Sometimes the diet includes flower pollen, leaves, needles. Despite their large size, adult barbels eat little. In search of food, these insects spend almost the entire daylight hours. At night, they rest in shelters, sometimes flock to a light source.

Lumberjacks are often captured and kept in a laboratory to study the insect in order to re-populate it in its natural habitat. Most often, females fall into the hands of researchers. They are more prone to flights, long journeys. In captivity, these beetles are fed sugar syrup.

Relic barbels have the most “brutal” appetite at the larval stage of development. The larvae are very voracious. They eat wood in which they live. Because of this, beetles bring significant harm to plants and humans.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: Relic Woodcutter Insect

Photo: Relic Woodcutter Insect

The lifestyle of a relic lumberjack largely depends on two conditions: habitat, weather. Beetles living closer to the south, in the north, begin to fly from mid-March. In other regions (Central Asian) flight begins at the very beginning of autumn. The peak of activity of these animals most often falls on the daytime. At night, insects sit in shelters. However, sometimes they are active at night, flocking to a bright source of light.

The larvae spend their entire lives in wood. Most of them are found in thick-stemmed trees. For example, in ash, elm, linden, poplar. Quite rarely they are found in birch, oak, maple. Adult individuals, on the other hand, settle in broad-leaved forests, they can fly from one tree to another several times a day.

Flyers are not the best among relic barbels. During the flight, these insects are very clumsy, they already have difficulty getting up from a horizontal surface. The main reason for this clumsiness is the large size of the beetle. The larger the individual, the less it flies. Females are more adapted to flying. They are smaller.

Relic barbels have quite powerful, strong jaws. They can easily bite a pencil. However, for humans, this animal does not pose a danger. They don't bite even if you catch a lumberjack and hold it in your hand.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Photo: Relic Lumberjack

Photo: Relic Lumberjack

The process of procreation of a relic lumberjack can be represented in stages:

  • search for a suitable pair. The mating season begins in spring. To attract males, females secrete a special secret;
  • mating. For love games, the beetles descend below where the female has planned to lay her eggs. The entire mating process takes about thirty minutes. After mating, the male does not immediately fly away from the female. He accompanies her to the place where eggs will be laid in the future;
  • laying eggs. At one time, a female woodcutter manages to lay about twenty-eight eggs. They are deposited on the trunk of a fodder tree. It is in the selected tree that the larva will live, develop and feed.

About a day after laying the eggs, the female and the male descend to the ground. There they die.

Larval stage. When the larvae are born, they penetrate deep into the bark of the tree. There they make moves. In one tree, you can find many larvae of different ages. The same tree can be populated several times. The larvae overwinter in the forage tree about six times.
Pupation, transformation into an adult. Pupa usually occurs during the summer — during June-July. Pupae develop for about a month, at the end of the period they reach from seventy to one hundred and ten millimeters.

Natural enemies of relict woodcutters

Photo: Relic woodcutter from the Red Book

Photo: Relic woodcutter from the Red Book

The worst enemies of relic woodcutters, as well as other representatives of their vast detachment, are woodpeckers. These birds easily destroy larvae, eggs, and sometimes adults. Often, adult beetles become victims of other birds of prey and animals. This usually happens when the insects are close to the ground. Large birds attack beetles in flight.

The natural enemy of barbels can be called parasitic microorganisms. Various mites, bacteria do not lead to the instant death of an adult beetle. However, they significantly undermine his health, eventually kill. Larvae are much less likely to become victims of enemies. They hide deep in the tree, in fairly secluded passages.

They are rarely attacked and destroyed by:

  • small parasites;
  • woodpeckers;
  • wasps — ichneumons;
  • other varieties of beetles.

Relic barbels do not often become victims of predators, parasites, birds. Most often they die at the hands of people. It is a person that can be called the main enemy of this animal. The woodcutter is a very rare, even unique insect. Almost all collectors of insects, lovers of the exotic want to have them. The cost of such an animal on the black market can reach one thousand dollars. For this reason, there are more and more hunters of the most valuable beetle every day, despite the fact that it is strictly prohibited by law.

Population and species status

Photo: Relic lumberjack animal

Photo: Relic lumberjack animal

The barbel family is represented in large numbers. To date, more than twenty thousand varieties are known. They are distributed almost all over the world, their population in total does not cause any concern among scientists. However, the relic lumberjack itself is recognized as an endangered species, it was listed in the Red Book of all states in whose territory its natural habitat is located.

The population of these insects is rapidly decreasing in almost the entire territory of Russia. There are many reasons for such a rapid decline in the number of beetles. The main reason is uncontrolled deforestation in the territory of natural habitat. People destroy more trees than they plant. Lumberjack beetles simply have nowhere to breed and live.

The general sanitary situation in the forests also negatively affects the population of these insects. Ecological situations are critical. The forests are polluted, the soil is saturated with pesticides. A person brings great harm to relic barbels. People intentionally destroy these insects, catch them for their own collections or for sale. Beetles are destroyed because of their detrimental effect on wood, green lands. And the capture of animals is associated with their prohibitively high market value, uniqueness.

Protection of relict lumberjacks

Photo: Relic woodcutter Red Book of Russia

Photo: Relic woodcutter Red Book of Russia

The Ussuri longhorned beetle is the smallest species of the beetle family. Small populations of this insect inhabit broad-leaved, mixed types of forests. To date, this type of insect is protected by law. It is listed in the Red Book of Russia due to a significant decrease in populations in the territory of their natural habitat. Barbel beetles are assigned to the second category and are recognized as a species that is declining in numbers.

Scientists have named the three most significant reasons for the reduction in the number of relict lumberjacks – this is deforestation, uncontrolled capture of adults by exotic lovers, deliberate cleaning of forests from pests (lumberjacks harm wood).

The detrimental effect of these factors led to the rapid extermination of beetles. Today, relic woodcutters are protected by law. On the territory of their natural range, trapping, hunting for adult beetles is strictly prohibited. Violation of this rule may result in a fine. Barbels have also been settled in many Russian reserves, where scientists can monitor their population and more carefully protect them from illegal capture. In addition, the government began to control deforestation in order to preserve the habitats of these insects.

The relict lumberjack is one of the most unique types of longhorn beetles, it is a very large and beautiful representative of beetles. Large dimensions, outstanding appearance, long whiskers – all this makes this insect unique in its kind. This is not to mention the fact that it itself is recognized as a living “fossil”. Unfortunately, in recent years the number of these beetles has decreased significantly. All this requires people to take effective measures to protect lumberjacks in their natural habitat as soon as possible.

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