Steraspis squamosa (Klug)
Systematic position: Insecta, Holometabola, Coleoptera, Buprestidae.
Common name: Middle Eastern jewel beetle.
Distribution: Middle East, North and West Africa.
Morphology: The adult larva (caterpillar) is about 75 mm long, yellowish. The adults are 25-40 mm in length, elytra with a rugose surface, metallic greenish-bluish hue, and an orange margin at their edges.
Host plants: Tamarix spp., Rhus spp., Acacia spp..
Life history: Steraspis squamosa lives inside the branches and trunks of host trees. Its eggs are laid on the branches, into which the larvae drill holes and feed. At maturity they cut through the bark, exit and begin a new cycle, which in warm climates requires one year, in cooler regions two. The adults live for about 1 month, are active in spring, feed on the foliage of Tamarix (and other host plants) and may disperse by flying.
Economic importance: The larvae’s boring in the branches of Tamarix trees causes their weakness and eventual breakage. Entire plantations may be seriously damaged.
Monitoring: Infested trees are injected with a systemic pesticide and the dead beetles, which fall out of the host, may be collected weekly.
Chemical control: Repeated injections with a systemic pesticide.
Biological control: The eggs and larvae of S. squamosa are attacked by several parasitoids. The commonest is Paraholaspis ovivora Steffan (Torymidae), which attacks 25-50% of the eggs.
Archeological note: The adults of the brightly colored S. squamosa were used to make a necklace, found in a pre-Dynastic tomb at Armant (now in Luxor Governorate, Upper Egypt).
Blair, K.G. 1935. Some ancient beetles from Egypt and Mesopotamia. Proceedings of the Royal Entomological Society of London 10, 19.
Haggag, S.M., Girgis, S.N., Batt, A.M. and Okil, A.M. 1996. Biological studies on the tamarisk Jewel borer, Steraspis squamosa Klug (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) in Egypt. Egyptian Journal of Agricultural Research 74: 1013-1020.
Halperin, J., 1976. The tamarisk buprestid – biology and natural enemies. Gan vanof 31: 232-240 (in Hebrew).
Katheh-Bader, A. 1996. Buprestidae of Jordan (Coleoptera). Fragmenta entomologica 28: 43-50.