An Unexpected Find

The Macon County Conservation District offers many educational programs that kids can enjoy, one of which is an insect program. During one of our many school field trips at Rock Springs Nature Center in mid-May this year, a group of students were out looking for insects during a program. Whenever they would find an insect, we would put it into an observation cup to identify as a group afterwards. As usual, there were a lot of your typically found insects like ants, grasshoppers, and ladybugs that were easy for staff and students to recognize. However, this time the students also found an unusual beetle that the staff were unable to identify. Using the Seek app on our phones, staff were able to narrow it down to a beetle in the genus Dicerca in the family Buprestidae.

If you haven’t heard of Seek before, it is an app by iNaturalist that pulls information from the millions of wildlife observations on their website using image recognition, with the goal of helping the general public identify wildlife, plants, and fungi. iNaturalist is one of the most popular nature apps that helps to connect people to nature, and it’s a great tool for citizen scientists!

So why are we mentioning this random beetle that was found? Well, after the beetle was photographed by staff and posted onto iNaturalist in hopes that someone else would be able to help identify it, we had some help figuring out what it was from an entomologist that studies this family! It turns out, this beetle was Dicerca mutica. There have only been six documented specimens of this beetle from New York to Texas! We were lucky enough to have located and captured a live example of this rarely-observed beetle, and we hope to capture more evidence of Dicerca mutica on our properties.

If you would like to learn more about iNaturalist and Seek, go to or check out the apps in your phone’s app store. You never know what you’ll find if you take the time to look closely!


  • Entomologist: a person who studies or is an expert in the branch of zoology concerned with insects.
  • Genus: a taxonomic category ranking used in biological classification that is below family and above species.
  • Family: a taxonomic rank in the classification of organisms between genus and order.

by Taylor Buley

Published On: August 18, 2023