Cover Photo by Don DeBold

Around my porch light every night in May, I spotted a swarm of half-inch brown beetles. From May through July, the majority of Floridians sit with their worn-out bodies in rain barrels, shallow plant saucers, or outdoor lighting for weeks at a time. As soon as I get a chance, I feed my hens these June Bugs, and they enjoy the extra protein. Because of this, if you see an Ibis grazing on your grass, look for its larvae as well as other soil-dwelling organisms.

Where do June Bugs come from?

What exactly are these brown insects, and whence do they originate? All year long, we don’t notice any; nevertheless, in May, a sudden influx of them in enormous numbers is observed. June bugs and May beetles (Phyllophaga spp.), which are brown, spend the most of their life as white grubs under the ground. White grubs consume plant waste such as tree roots, sod, and decomposing plants. You might never come across these little bugs unless you plant trees or add irrigation, since this involves digging. Their likelihood of being discovered by my dog increases as they go nearer the surface. These delicious morsels are great for both backyard hens and fishermen.

The porch light functions at night as a beacon of light to draw in the adults.

How common are they?

There are 200 million more insects on the planet than people. There are over 100 different species of may beetles, which are insects of the Scarabaeidea family. There are 350,000 different species of beetles in the world, which account for 40% of all insects. 

The green June beetle (Cotinis nitida) is the 2nd most common June bug. Despite this species’ scarcity in comparison to the brown May Beetle’s tremendous density, its iridescent green color is beautiful. With a kaleidoscopic metallic shine, this beetle is a little bigger, measuring between 3/4 and 1 inch in length. From the time he is an egg to the time he becomes an adult, he spends his entire life underground. As soon as this species emerges from its pupal stage, it begins to live as an adult. The only function of these mature bugs is to breed and lay eggs. No further goals are in mind for them.

Another June bug that resembles this one in some ways is the yellow June bug. Approximately an inch long, this large, brown mustard beetle has yellow eyes. 

One of the most prevalent June bug cousins and one known for its devastating effects on plants is the Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica. Japanese beetles, which are invasive but have a major pest problem in the United States, have wiped off roses and other attractive plants. Aphids consume mature plants, such as beans, roses, peonies, and other types of plants. Alternative techniques, such as sticky traps and pheromone traps, must be utilized because pesticide sprays have a limited impact on getting rid of these pests.

Enemies of June Bugs

On the other hand, May beetles have innate enemies. They will naturally decrease in population because parasite wasps and flies will consume them. When we apply pesticides, we also endanger the good bugs that eat other bugs. The following are beneficial insects and predators that consume May beetle larvae.

    • A fungus called cordyceps prevents the grubs from maturing into adults by infecting them.
    • Pyrgotid fly, Pyrgota undata
    • Pelecinid wasp, Pelecinus polyturator
    • The grubs on your grass will be eaten by birds like Ibis and Sandhill cranes.
    • In addition to armadillos, moles, skunks, raccoons, and others consume lawn grubs.

The life cycle of the June Bug

Depending on the species, female may beetles lay anywhere from 15 to 20 eggs in a cluster of leaf litter one to 8 inches below the soil’s surface. The pearly-white, 1.5–3 millimeter-diameter eggs hatch after around 21 days. Depending on the species, the depth at which a beetle hatches can be anywhere between one foot and three and a half feet. Sprays usually have little success in stopping them as a result. When they are about to become pupae, they will start to emerge from the earth. Depending on the species, this can take anywhere from one to three years. May beetle grubs (brown), which take three years to develop into adults and do significant harm to lawns and ornamental plants, are the primary culprits in this problem. If you need help with these pesky insects, contact On Demand Pest Control for a free quote!

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