You may have recently spotted (or heard) a large metallic green bug buzzing around your yard. Green fruit beetles, or figeater beetles, are large, clumsy, metallic green pests.
My dogs and chickens love to chase green fruit beetles, and I am grateful. In the heat of summer, these pests fly in to lay eggs throughout my garden and landscape, taking a toll on my fig harvest. They also feed on apricots, nectarines, plums, grapes, pears, and tomatoes, as well as manure and compost. Generally, figeater beetles (Cotinis mutabilis), do not cause a lot of damage, but they can if enough of them converge on your garden.
Green fruit beetle identification
Green fruit beetles (Cotinis mutabilis) are members of the scarab family and easy to identify. They can reach 1-1/4 inch in length and have a shiny green exoskeleton. They also tend to bump into things as they fly. They are often mistaken for green June beetles (Cotinis nitida) and Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica), both of which are mostly found on the East Coast. Green fruit beetle larva, which are called ‘curly backs’ are large, up to 2 inches long, and a dirty white color, with a dark head. They get their name because they move by rolling over onto their back and using the stiff hairs to propel them forward. The larvae feed on mulch, manure, and compost. It is not uncommon to find figeater beetles and figeater beetle body parts nose down in garden soil. This is how they lay their eggs.
Green fruit beetle controls
Since these pests are attracted to the smell of ripe fruit, harvest frequently. Also, you can plant crops that ripen earlier in the season to avoid feeding green fruit beetles. Personally, I have trained my dogs to catch them and I use a butterfly net to pin them down, then I feed them to my chickens, but you may not have that option. Luckily, it is very easy to build a green fruit beetle trap. Simply mix 1 part water with 1 part grape or peach juice and put it in a one-gallon container. Then, create a funnel out of screen or hardware cloth and insert it into the container. The adult beetles will be attracted to the juice, climb down into the container, and then be unable to figure out how to escape. (I wonder how chickens feel about beetles drowned in juice…)
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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