Bio Green Beetles In Your Home Garden And Orchard
COMMON NAME: Green June Beetle, Fig Beetle, Green Fruit Beetle, Peach Beetle.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Continis texana
Adult - a very large (over one inch in length and about half that in width), robust-looking beetle; usually dark green in color (but sometimes copperish) with bronze-colored outside margins on the wing covers. They fly during the day and make a very loud "whirring" noise when doing so.
Pupae - The pupae are about one inch in length and will be found in the spring burrowed deep into the soil that the larvae lived in.
Larvae - These large white grubs can grow up to two inches in length and be the diameter of an adult's little finger. They live deep in soil that is rich in organic materials.
Eggs - the eggs are gray, oval or round, and are laid in piles of organic matter such as manure, compost, or mulch.
LIFE CYCLE: The larvae pupate in the spring and the new adults emerge and come to the surface in early or mid-summer. The adults fly around, feeding, and laying eggs throughout the summer and then die. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on available organic matter and grow until the cold weather hits. The beetles overwinter as larvae and there is only one generation per year.
PLANTS USUALLY AFFECTED: Peaches, grapes, figs, apricots, apples, nectarines, pears, berries, muskmelons, corn, tomatoes, cactus fruit, and even roses.
TIME OF YEAR: The adults usually show up about June, often seeming to come with the summer rains. Damage from the adults will show up throughout the summer, becoming more noticeable as fruit and vegetables start to ripen. The larvae will of course be feeding underground throughout the summer and fall.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Look (and listen!) for the adults. They will be very visible if they are flying in the area. Look at the contents of your compost pile as you turn it or put it into your planting beds. The large white larvae and smaller pupae will be easy to spot and remove. Both adults and larvae will often come to the surface of the soil after a heavy rain or in a flooded area. You can sometimes spot the adults as they start to tunnel into the soil or compost to lay their eggs and they can leave behind a hole about one inch in diameter in clay soils.
PROBLEMS AND DAMAGE: The adults will often gather in masses on ripe fruit or veggies, eating chunks of it and spoiling what is left. They also feed on stems and leaves. The larvae are generally not a problem; but, if they are in your planting beds, they can disturb roots by their tunneling and feeding.
CULTURAL CONTROLS: Clear away any piles of manure, compost, or mulch near the garden or orchard; destroy any larvae or feed them to the chickens. Consider putting your compost or mulch down in the late fall or winter when the larvae will still be present, rather than waiting until the spring when they might pupate before you get to them. And, be sure to screen your compost carefully before using it. Plant varieties that ripen before the emergence of the adults in June. Clean up any fallen or damaged fruit; the odor can draw the beetles from far away and they can attack undamaged fruit as well while they are there.
COMPANION PLANTING, REPELLENTS, AND TRAP PLANTS: Unknown.
MECHANICAL CONTROLS, BARRIERS, AND TRAPS: Practice your backhand or slam and use a tennis or racquetball racquet to swat flying adults right out of the air and then step on them! Put a sheet under the tree or vegetable foliage and shake to dislodge the pest; then quickly step on them, making sure that they are indeed dead and not just stunned. These critters are exceedingly tough to kill. You can try covering your fruit, trees, and veggies with paper bags, agricultural fleece or a fine netting; but, given enough time, these beetles will simple chew right through it. Use a portable wet/dry vacuum on low power to suck the beetles off, then quickly (before they eat their way out of the bag) kill them. Be careful of fragile foliage and stay away from water. You can make a trap by using a funnel over a jar containing overripe fruit. Place this well away from your other crops and check daily. The beetles should be able to get into the jar using the large part of the funnel, but not be able to find their way out of the small hole from the other end.
NATURAL CONTROLS: If they can find them, chickens, ducks, geese, and all sorts of other birds would love to help you get rid of the larvae. But most of the time you will have to bring them to the surface for them as the larvae tend to bury themselves much too deeply for the birds to find for themselves. Skunks, coyotes, snakes, toads, ground squirrels, mice, etc... may have better luck but will still appreciate you tilling up the ground to bring everything closer to the surface.
BIOLOGICAL INSECTICIDES: Rotenone and possibly Ryania.
CHEMICAL CONTROLS: Call your County Extension Agent for current recommendations. Check at your favorite garden supply store or nursery to see what they have available. Remember to check the label to make sure that the Green Fruit Beetle is a listed target pest and FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS EXACTLY! When it comes to pesticides, more is NOT better!! Wear protective clothing, watch out for non-target insects, plants, pets, children, and other living things. Wash your skin and clothing after application and take care not to get the substance into your eyes, mouth, or breathing passages.