The adult form of the tung arere (Prionoplus reticularis – also known as pepe-te-muimui or the huhu beetle) is the heavyweight champion of Aotearoa’s diverse beetle fauna.
They’re often called huhu beetles because they are the adult form of the huhu grub – a traditional food source for many iwi throughout the country. This beetle actually spends most of its life as a grub, munching and tunnelling through rotten wood for several years before emerging as a flying adult beetle.
Adults don’t eat and only live for a couple of weeks. You might have noticed the adult beetles buzzing around porchlights at night, sending out powerful smells to attract a mate. Huhu beetle season is from November to March, with the greatest numbers out in December and January.
These longhorn beetle have wings in a rich brown colour patterned in gold markings, long legs and antennae, and a golden fuzz about their head and thorax. Their beautiful patterns make up for their habit of sometimes smacking people in the face at night as they buzz busily about.
They’ve also been called ‘haircutters’. Their legs and antennae are covered with sharp hooks so if one of these beetle lands in your hair, they can get so entangled that only a haircut will free you of them!
Check these links for more info on Huhu Beetles in NZ
iNaturalist.nz: Observations of Prionoplus reticularis
Wikipedia: Information on Prionoplus reticularis
Puketi Forest Trust: Huhu Beetle