Figeater beetles only open their wings partially when they fly.
Figeater Beetle Scientific Classification
- Scientific Name
- Cotinis mutabilis
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Figeater Beetle Conservation Status
Figeater Beetle Locations
Figeater Beetle Facts
- Name Of Young
- Group Behavior
- Fun Fact
- Figeater beetles only open their wings partially when they fly.
- Most Distinctive Feature
- The larvae of figeater beetles move by crawling on their backs
- Distinctive Feature
- They make loud buzzing noise they make when they fly
- Other Name(s)
- Fig beetle
- Usually found in association with fruit trees
- Birds, toads, lizards, rodents,
- Favorite Food
- Ripe soft-skinned fruits
- Common Name
- Figeater beetle
- Special Features
- Figeater beetles fly with their wings partially opened
- United States, Mexico
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Figeater beetles only open their wings partially when they fly.
The figeater beetle is a type of scarab beetle native to North America. The beetle is most common in the southwestern region of the United States and Mexico. These brightly colored beetles are diurnal, i.e., more active during the day than at night. They often fly into people as they make their way clumsily through the hair. Their clumsy flight is due to their inability to open their elytra fully when they fly. Figeater beetles are herbivorous. They feed on ripe fruits and may become a severe agricultural pest if they infest a field in large numbers.
Figeater Beetle Species, Types, and Scientific Name
Figeater beetle is the common name of Cotinis mutabilis, a beetle in the family Scarabaeidae. Insects in this family are also called scarabs or scarab beetles. Scarabs are stout-bodied insects known for their bright metallic colors and clubbed antennae. The scarab beetle family is a large one, with at least 30,000 species of beetles found all over the world.
Figeater beetles are also called fig beetles or green fruit beetles. Their common name and nicknames reference their tendency to feed on ripe soft-bodied fruits, including figs, tomatoes, berries, and grapes.
The figeater beetle’s diet is consistent with the feeding habit of beetles in the subfamily Cetoniinae where it belongs. This group of beetles with at least 4000 members are also commonly called flower chafers. Insects in this group feed on pollen, nectar, flower petals, and fruits.
People often compare the green fruit beetle to the green june beetle, which has a similar appearance. However, the june beetle is typically smaller, and its range is limited to the eastern parts of the United States. Some people also tend to mistake them for japanese beetles native to the eastern United States.
Appearance: How to Identify Figeater Beetle
Figeater beetles have the classic scarab beetle appearance. They’re stout-bodied with hard elytra covering their thorax and abdomen. Adults can grow to lengths of up to 1.2 inches (3.2 cm) on average. Figeater beetles are pretty attractive. They are typically semi-glossy green on the top, while their undersides and legs are usually a brilliant iridescent green color.
You’re more likely to find this beetle during the day when they’re more active. They’re often seen congregating in the shade of fruit trees. One prominent distinguishing feature of this group of beetles is the loud buzzing noise they make when they fly. This is due to the fact that their elytras are only partially opened when they’re in flight.
The larvae of fig beetles are also called “crawly back .” This nickname is due to the unique way they crawl. Instead of moving with their legs, they tend to propel their body forward by crawling on their backs. They have bristles on their body, which they use for traction. The whitish beetles are C-shaped like the larvae of other scarab beetles. They can grow to lengths of up to 5.1 cm.
Habitat: Where to Find Figeater Beetle
The figeater beetle is native to the United States and Mexico. They’re most common in moist locations in the southwestern area of the United States. However, their range has been expanding over the past few years. They have become more common near human populations, making their homes in gardens, organic mulch, compost piles, and anywhere their larvae can easily access decomposing organic matter.
Diet: What Do Figeater Beetles Eat?
Fig beetles and other members of the subfamily Cetoniinae are known as fruit chaffers. This is due to their tendency to feed on pollen, nectar, and petals of different plants. As their name suggests, figeater beetles eat figs and other ripe soft-skinned fruits. Their diet primarily consists of berries, grapes, peaches, and tomatoes. They prefer ripe and over-ripe fruits because fruits with tough skins are often too hard for them to bite into. In addition, the larvae of fig beetles feed on decaying organic matter, such as organic mulch, compost, and plant roots.
What Eats Figeater Beetle?
Figeater beetles don’t have any defense mechanisms and are clumsy fliers. As a result, they’re easy prey for birds, toads, lizards, rodents, and even other insects that prey on beetles. Digger wasps and some types of nematodes may also feed on fig beetle grubs in check. Raccoons, possums, and other rodents may also dig up the large larvae for food.
Prevention: How to Get Rid of Figeater Beetle
Although figeater beetles feed on garden fruits, they’re hardly problematic because they only do minor damage in most cases. However, in some cases, an infestation can go out of hand, with the beetles attacking plants in large numbers and causing severe damage.
If fig beetles or their larvae are causing a problem in your garden, the best way to defend your plants against them is to maintain a healthy garden. Adequate care for your plants will help minimize damage to your plant. Good irrigation can also help keep the larvae population under control since the grubs cannot survive for long in wet soil. Tiling the ground before planting in fall or early spring also exposes the grubs to the surface, where they can quickly get eaten by predators or die due to exposure to sunlight.
Overripe fruits are their favorite. To prevent adults from damaging your fruit, it’s best to pick fruits as soon as they ripen. Using pesticides and other chemical controls is not recommended for fig beetles. This can affect other beneficial insects in your garden.
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Figeater Beetle FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is a figeater a june bug?
No. While figeater beetles are often confused for june bugs, both insects are completely different. They have a similar appearance; both belong to the subfamily Cetoniinae (flower chafers). However, june beetles are smaller and are found in the eastern United States.
Do figeater beetles bite?
No. Although they have the classic size and shape of the scarab beetle that makes them look ferocious, they’re quite docile and harmless. Fig beetles don’t bite or sting humans. Instead, they’re more interested in eating ripe and overripe fruits.
Why are figeater beetles attacking me?
Figeaters often fly into humans, and this may make it seem like they’re attacking. However, this isn’t the case. They’re clumsy fliers and only fly into people because they’re not very good at flying.
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- Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_chafer
- Gardening Know How / Mary H. Dyer, Available here: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/fig-beetles-in-the-garden.htm
- Natural History Museum of LA County / Emily Hartop, Available here: https://nhm.org/stories/when-fig-beetles-attack