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Coleoptera of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Species Pages

Family Cerambycidae

            Subfamily Lepturinae

 Desmocerus palliatus (Forster)

Elderberry borer

Description and Taxonomy

Length 18-26mm. This medium sized, distinctive purple and yellow or yellow-orange longhorned beetle is not likely to be confused with any other species. The color fades on preserved specimens. This is the only member of the genus in eastern U.S. Two additional species occur in the west (Linsley and Chemsak 1972).

Life History

The adults can be seen during daytime foraging on flower heads. Larvae bore in elderberry (Sambucus) roots and require two years to mature. Adults emerge about the time the host blooms. Specimens from GSMNP were collected during June and July. For details about biology see Craighead (1923) and Solomon (1995).


Widely distributed through eastern North America as far south as Louisiana and north to southern Quebec. Known from scattered localities in GSMNP and probably occurs wherever good stands of host plant occur.

Conservation Concerns

Not under threat. Sought after by collectors.


Locality records in GSMNP.


Development of these pages was supported by grants from Discover Life in America and the National Science Foundation (DEB-0516311). Photograph of live specimen courtesy Jeffrey S. Pippen, Duke University (


Craihead, F. C. 1923. North American Cerambycid Larvae. Canadian Department of Agriculture Technical Bulletin 27 (n.s.), 239 pp.

Linsley, E. G., and J. A. Chemsak. 1972. Cerambycidae of North America. Part VI. No. 1. Taxonomy and Classification of the Subfamily Lepturinae. University of California Publications in Entomology 69,  xiii+138 pp, 2 pl.

Solomon, J. D., 1995. Guide to Insect Borers in North American Broadleaf Trees and Shrubs. USDA Forest Service Handbook #706, 735 pp.

Posted 4 Aug. 2006, C. E. Carlton, Louisiana State Arthropod Museum.

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