Sassafras Borer – Oberea ruficollis

Sassafras Borer (Oberea ruficollis)

Latin Name: Oberea ruficollis

Common Name: Sassafras Borer



Longhorn beetle is large, elongate, and thin, measuring around 17 mm long and 3.8 mm broad. Males’ dark brown antennae extend past the tips of their elytra, whereas females’ antennae do not—brownish yellow to brick red on the head, prothorax, and ventral surfaces, and legs. Gray pubescence covers the elytra, which is set against a black background. With one median and two lateral callosities, the pronotum is wider than long, restricted in front and back, and has one median and two lateral callosities. Elytra are elongate, with truncated tips and longitudinally ridged surfaces thickly and coarsely punctuate.


Mature larvae are long, thin, cylindrical, smooth, glossy, and sparsely coated with short, yellowish-brown hairs. The head is brown, while the rest of the body is pale yellow—legless larvae with increasingly narrowing body segments from front to back; 16 to 26 mm long.


Yellowish with dark colors eyes, mouthparts, and wing pads; 15 to 18 mm long.


Throughout the eastern United States

Damage caused by Sassafras Borer:

The infestation has been especially severe in young vegetation in old fields and field edges. Sassafras trees with a diameter of 6.3 to 51.0 mm are vulnerable to attack. Adults leave irregular oval exit holes in the bark about 3 mm by 4 mm. Young plants, especially big seedlings and saplings, are commonly tunneled, encircled, and destroyed.

Life history and Habits:

Females lay eggs in niches bitten in the bark of twigs and pupate underground in the South. Galleries are built of wood (the core of little stems) and maybe as long as 1 m, although the most frequent length is 60 to 90 cm. Larvae dig small galleries at right angles to the main gallery and through to the bark surface while tunneling in the stem to discharge frass. Emerging adults gnaw right through the bark to make escape holes.