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Green June Beetle

Green June Beetle Cotinis nitida L., has been increasing in Alabama pastures, hayfields, landscapes, home lawns, and other established grassy areas. Although green June beetle grubs prefer to feed on decaying organic matter, occasionally they chew the tender roots of grass plants. Damage to turf and pasture is primarily mechanical because grub tunneling and movement in the soil uproot grass plants, which then dry out and die.

Green June Beetle

Green June Beetle

Green June beetle adults are velvet green with orange or rust stripes along the outer margins of the wing covers. Beetles may be 1/2 to nearly 1 inch long. Peak beetle flights begin during late June, thus the common southeastern name, June bug. The immature. Green June beetle adult. Fully-grown green June beetle grubs insects, commonly called grubworms, are also familiar sights. These large grubs are often found under hay bales left in the field, near manure piles, and in thick organic turf.

Green June beetle grubs are most abundant in sandy or sandy loam soil rich in organic matter. Green June beetle adults are attracted to the decaying organic matter that makes up a large part of the grub’s diet. Broiler litter, cow manure, milorganite (composted sewage sludge), rotting hay, and stable manure all encourage green June beetle infestation.

Green June Beetle

Green June Beetle

Life Cycle: This insect overwinters as a nearly mature larva in the soil. They feed and finish maturing in the spring and pupate in a cell in the soil. A few beetles may emerge in late May or early June, but most do not emerge until mid-June. They are common in July and August and some remain active through early October.

Eggs are laid in late summer. The female beetles prefer sandy soil that is high in humus or organic matter. They burrow into the soil and lay their eggs 6 to 8 inches below the surface. The eggs hatch in about 2 weeks and the larvae feed on organic matter in the soil until winter approaches. There is one generation per year.

Habitat and Food Source: Mouthparts are for chewing. Larvae feed in the soil on turfgrasses, corn, oats, sorghum alfalfa, vegetables, tobacco and ornamental plants. Larvae have a peculiar habit of “crawling” on their backs when migrating on the soil surface. Adults feed on over-ripe fruit like peaches and sometimes on peach leaves. Adults can be found flying in the air or can be attracted to fermented fruit baits, or from over-ripe fruits and some flowers. They can be collected in a net or beaten into a container.

Damage: Adult green June beetles mate, lay eggs, and feed on sap and ripe fruits. Beetles feed in groups that readily devour fruit. Beetle excrement fouls fruit. Green June beetles most often reach economically damaging levels where pastures are adjacent to orchards. Feeding on fruit extends adult longevity and results in increased egg-laying capacity. Once a sweet food source is located, the adults feed and emit an aggregation odor that attracts more adults to feed as a group. It becomes difficult to prevent fruit damage because adults continuously move into a fruit planting. Control is necessarily dependent on insecticides with short pre harvest intervals before beetle populations reach critical levels. Grubs feed on organic matter at the soil surface. A small amount of green June beetle tunneling helps aerate the soil; however, extensive tunneling can be quite harmful to turf and seedling plants.

Green June Beetle

Green June Beetle

Controls: Normal orchard monitoring readily identifies green June beetle infestations in peaches. When adult green June beetle flights begin in adjacent pastures in late June or July, it is prudent to begin checking ripening peaches for beetle feeding. Some will find it useful to monitor for adult beetles by placing trays of fermenting fruit or watermelon on the orchard perimeter. Once adult June beetle flights begin, check several times a week for fruit feedings. Apply an insecticide when beetle attack first begins, and reapply if beetles continue to enter the orchard. Border sprays can be a valuable control option. Insecticide use must be carefully timed to conform to pre-harvest intervals. Use of insecticide-treated fermenting fruit trays, placed every 50 feet around the orchard perimeter, can significantly reduce the number of beetles entering the orchard to damage peaches. It is, however, important to take care to avoid poisoning non-target species.

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