By Gene Sumi Homestead Education Coordinator
It is now mid-July and I am looking for Japanese beetles in the usual places. But what is this? It appears to be a Japanese beetle, but it looks very different. It’s bigger in size and it is mostly light green in color.
This is Cotinis nitida, commonly known as the Green June Beetle. It is bigger than the Japanese beetle, usually growing to 1 inch long with a much stockier body (having big shoulders and not the usual round shape of the Japanese Beetle). So what is this guy doing in my garden and what damage does he have planned for my plants?
The Green June Beetle, sometimes called the Green June Bug (not taxonomically correct) is actually in the same family as the scarab beetles, which include dung beetles. The adult beetles really eat very little during while at this stage. The damage that they do is done in their grub stage. These large larvae can grow to 2.5 inches long and are known to damage turfgrass roots as they tunnel up to the surface to feed at night. The grubs feed mostly on decomposing organic matter in the soil and sometimes feed on grass roots, which is a big difference between them and Japanese beetles.
The adult beetles do little damage to landscape plants in general, but they do cause some damage to ripe fruit, especially figs.
Bottom line, there is no pressing need to control them, as the only real and present danger they pose is to the gardener – from flying at high speed and hitting us in the face. No kidding – that can really smart!
Photo credit: Purdue.