U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle VesmotertM adifartuoM dimzrrpjtus
The valley elderberry longhorn
beetle is a threatened species.
Threatened species are plants
and animals whose population
numbers are so low that they
may become endangered in the
near future.
Endangered species are
plants and animals that are
in immediate danger of
becoming extinct.
The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency's (EPA)
Endangered Species Protection
Program (ESPP) will help
ensure that pesticide use does
not jeopardize the survival of
listed species.
Description and Ecology
Status Threatened, listed August 8, 1980.
Critical Habitat Designated August 8, 1980.
Appearance The adult valley elderberry longhorn beetle
has an elongated shield-shaped body, 1/2 to 1 inch long when
measured from the top of the head to the tail. Its dark and
knobby antennae are nearly as long as its body. The anten-
nae of males are longer than those of females, but the bodies
of females are larger, 3/4 to 1 inch in length. Both have dark
heads and legs. The outer wings, or elytra, of females are a
dark, nearly metallic green in contrast with a bright red edge.
Male elytra are bright red accented with four oblong dark
Range At the time of its listing the valley elderberry
longhorn beetle was known in only 10 locations along the
American River, Putah Creek, ana the Merced River. Since that
time, surveys have documented a broader distribution of the
species; according to 190 records the species was located
from southern Shasta County south to Fresno County in the
San Joaquin Valley.
Habitat Valley elderberry longhorn beetles are found in
riparian habitat only in the vicinity of their host plant, the
elderberry (Sambucus species such as the Mexican elderberry
Sambucus mexicana). Leaves and flowers of the elderberry
provide food for the adult beetle while the interior pith of
elderberry stems and roots at least one inch in diameter
provides both food and shelter for the developing larva. Loss
of riparian habitat from 1900 to 1990 was about 96% in the
southern Central Valley (Kern County to Fresno County), 84%
in the middle Valley (Merced County to San Joaquin County)
and 80% in the northern Valley (Sacramento and Solano
counties to Shasta County). At the time of listing, critical
habitat was designated in just two places (the Sacramento
Zone and the American River Parkway Zone) along and close
to the American River in Sacramento. Over the past 25 years
the loss of riparian habitat has slowed, and in the middle and
northern Valley 50,000 acres of existing riparian habitat have
been protected. In addition, 5,000 acres of riparian habitat
have been restored specifically for the valley elderberry long-
horn beetle. The slowdown in habitat loss, the protection and
restoration of riverine habitat, and the increase in valley el-
derberry longhorn beetle occurrences, together have been the
major reasons for the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)having
considered delisting this species (Valley Elderberry Longhorn
Beetle 5-year Review, September 26, 2006). However, the
FWS recognizes that maintenance of levees and canals may
limit future restoration of valley elderberry longhorn beetle/
riparian habitat, that not enough is known about the surviv-
ability of elderberry within the restored habitat or whether
restored habitat will be adopted by beetles, and the specific
metapopulation dynamics of the valley elderberry longhorn
beetle are not fully understood. As a result, the species re-
mains listed as threatened.
Reproduction and Life Cycle The complete life
cycle of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle has four stages:
egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The adult beetles are active,
feeding and mating, from March until June. After mating,
their eggs are deposited on live elderberry bushes in the crev-
ices of the bark, at the stem/trunk junctions, or at the stem/
petiole junctions. After hatching the larvae bore through the
bark into the pith of the elderberry stem where they tunnei
and eat for up to two years. For the larvae to be successful in
completing the cycle the stems of the elderberries must be at
least 1.0 inch in diameter at ground level. In their last stage,
larvae bore back out of the stem (thereby creating the "exit
hole") and then return to the pith, closing the exit hole with
a substance composed of wood shavings or chewed wood
and excrement called "frass."The larvae then enter the pu-
pal stage. After transformation, the adult beetle need only
break through the frass plug at the exit hole to continue
the cycle once again among the elderberries. Typically,
adult valley elderberry longhorn beetles emerge at about
the same time as the elderberry flowers bloom (between
mid-March and mid-June). Lizards, European earwigs, and
non-native Argentine ants prey upon the various life stages
of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle.
Recovery Plan FWS developed a recovery plan for
the valley elderberry longhorn beetle in 1984. Recovery
plans outline reasonable actions that FWS believes are
required to recover or protect listed species. FWS prepares
recovery plans, sometimes with the assistance of recovery
teams, contractors, state agencies, and others. Recovery
plans do not necessarily represent the views nor the official
positions or approvals of any individuals or agencies, other
than FWS, involved in the plan formulation. Approved re-
covery plans are subject to modification as dictated by new
findings, changes in species'status, and the completion of
recovery tasks.
Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle
Information Sources
Primary Reference Beacham, Walton, Castronova,
Frank F., and Sessine, Suzanne (eds.) 2001. Beacham's
Guide to the Endangered Species of North America, Gale
Group, New York. Vol. 3, pp. 1475-1476.
Listing Notice U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1980.
Federal Register 45 No. 155, pp. 52803-52807, August 8,
1980. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/federal_register/fr449.pdf
Critical Habitat Designation u.s. Fish and
Wildlife Service. 1980.Federal Register 45 No. 155, pp.
52803-52807, August 8, 1980. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/
Recovery Plan U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1984.
Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle Recovery Plan. U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. 62 pp. http://
Species Account U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sac-
ramento Fish and Wildlife Offi ce, 2009. http://www.fws.
5-year Review U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2006.
5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation for the Valley
Elderberry Longhorn Beetle (Desmocerus californicus).
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Field Office,
Sacramento, California. 28 pp. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/
Female Vo
Side, view Midjr&nt view oj-male valley elderberry Lrrujkortt beetles.
Courtesy oj-T.S. Taliey