If you are scared of beetles or anything that creeps, crawls, or flies around like a helmeted bombardier, slamming into your porch lights at night, you might not want to hear this number. The truth is, there are a lot of beetles crawling in Georgia.
Of course, you can’t lock beetles down to specific, geographical locations. Beetles indigenous to the south aren’t necessarily indigenous to a single state. But Georgia is known for a particular beetle — the Hercules beetle, to be exact — along with a more recent influx of a variety of black beetle species.
In all, there are roughly 187 beetle species currently dwelling within Georgia’s borders. The Hercules beetle and black beetles are just icing on the cake. When it comes to nearly 200 beetles, that’s a lot to cover. But, rest assured, the most common beetles in the state of Georgia will have their moment in the spotlight below.
1. Hercules Beetle
Since the Hercules is the most famous — or should we say, infamous — beetle in Georgia, it’s a fitting starting point. Needless to say, it’s an enormous beetle, otherwise known as Dynastes Hercules. The Hercules beetle can reach up to 2.5 inches. On paper, that doesn’t sound like much. Wake up with one having a casual scroll across your hand, and 2.5 inches will seem like four feet!
In Georgia, it’s more properly labeled the “eastern Hercules beetle,” and it’s more than just a beetle crawling in Georgia. Hercules beetles thrive as far south as Florida and as far north as New York. They’re instantly recognizable (because they’re gargantuan) with their mud-green and tan bodies, speckled with black spots.
They lay eggs in the heat of the summer, but don’t worry, they aren’t considered overly damaging insect types. A lot of beetles will happily chew through living room carpets or crops on large and small farms alike. Hercules beetles are more docile than that. Though they look like they can chase down small mountain lions, they’re calm insects.
2. Asian Lady Beetle
To the untrained eye, the Asian lady beetle is nothing more than a common ladybug. Instead, it belongs to the ladybug family of beetles, and it’s not indigenous to the United States. The Asian lady beetle made its way onto American shorelines in the early part of the 20th century. They originally hail from Eastern Asia.
These beetles are quite friendly, both in terms of their docile nature and in their benefits to people. Asian lady beetles run around eating the less savory bugs — the kind you don’t want inside your house, nestled in your sock drawer. They consume aphids, mites, arthropods, an extensive list of other, smaller insect species, and all of their eggs and larvae.
The only drawback to this ladybug lookalike is its capacity for biting. They don’t bite everyone they land on, but they will bite if they feel threatened. To tell the difference between an Asian lady beetle and a traditional ladybug, look for the “W” pattern on the Asian lady beetle’s head, along with white cheeks on its face.
3. Black Carpet Beetle
While the Asian lady beetle bites occasionally, the black carpet beetle is one of the most destructive beetles crawling in Georgia, especially if it gets anywhere near keratin. Unfortunately, keratin is commonly found in animal and human hair.
However, black carpet beetles won’t go after the hair while it’s still on your head, thankfully. What it will do is feast on your carpet, where most pets and people’s hair inevitably lands. They build their nests using whatever they can find, including hair, dead insect carcasses, pollen, bird feathers, dirt, and all manner of other debris.
4. Varied Carpet Beetle
The varied carpet beetle is a medley of random blacks, browns, tans, and cream-white colors. They’re about half the size of the black carpet beetle and they are more than capable of flying. Also, like their black carpet beetle cousins, varied carpet beetles infest carpets and dried goods stores or pantries. They’ll also take the occasional stroll through the attic.
Though they aren’t as infamous as the black carpet beetle, these little guys are quite destructive as well. They love to eat carpets, stuffed animals, leather, other insects, and cardboard from dried goods containers. It’s common for these enthusiastic flyers to enter homes through open windows, mostly when there is an interior light attractant.
5. Japanese Beetle
Now, this is one, cool-looking beetle. Smaller than the previous two, the Japanese beetle has a brownish/gold/copper cap over a vivid, metallic-green body. They’re also slightly larger than the black carpet beetle, so they’re very easy to spot.
If you are enthusiastic about maintaining the perfect lawn, the Japanese beetle will be your archnemesis. They are known for wiping out entire lawns within a span of a few days. Once they’re in, the game is on, and home lawns are at their mercy.
They also go after shrubs, flowers, and crops. There’s no information regarding how the Japanese beetle made its way into the United States, but they were first identified in 1916. They prefer nice, warm, sunny days, so they aren’t much different from beachgoers in the South. However, when they come out for the summer fun, it’s best to be prepared if you have a pretty lawn.
6. Ground Beetle
The last of the most common beetles in Georgia is the ground beetle (Tachyta nana). It’s not the most lavish and exceptional name in the world, but the ground beetle stands out because it’s instantly recognizable. They look like large, black ants with a larger, oval-shaped abdomen than the abdomen of an ant.
Ground beetles, just like their name implies, spend most of their life in the soil. Unlike some of the beetles above, ground beetles can’t fly, even though they have a small pair of wings. They’re also the least destructive. They have no interest in carpets or dried goods and will generally behave themselves in a garden.
They prefer darkness, whether it’s in the soil, under a log, or heavy piles of debris. You’ll often see them when you turn something over that’s been sitting in the yard for weeks or months. They aren’t super fast, but they’ll head for the hills as quickly as they can when exposed.
7. Blister Beetle
The blister beetle isn’t always solid black, often appearing with black stripes or dark browns and grays. They get their name because of the chemical makeup in their blood. If it gets on your skin, it will often cause blisters to rise.
Their heads resemble a praying mantis, with overly large eyes that are usually a bright shade of orange and red. Also, like a praying mantis, they have a very narrow thorax. Blister beetles are on the small side in the beetle family, often only reaching 3/4 inch. These aren’t the only blister beetles crawling in Georgia but they are the most common.
8. Eyed Click Beetle
Eyed click beetles (Alaus oculatus) may have a strange name, but they’re fairly common beetles, often found hanging out on trees. They have a special affinity for oak and cherry trees. They’re instantly recognizable thanks to two, large black spots on their backs, ringed in white. It makes it look as if they have a second pair of eyes on their backs.
These beetles resemble something out of a horror movie. Their large, black dots are spooky but it’s a fascinating aesthetic nonetheless. The eyed click beetle is a type of click beetle and they are generally regarded as harmless.
9. Black Turpentine Beetle
Belonging to a group known as “bark beetles,” the black turpentine beetle is often found on pine trees. Unfortunately, they don’t use pine trees as a home but as a source of sustenance, often damaging the pine to the point where it dies. They create what is called “pitch tubes” on the surface of the pine trees, where they burrow. The tube is a mixture of pine resin, sawdust, and frass. If they create enough pitch tubes in a pine tree, it will kill the tree.
These are large beetles, with the males reaching anywhere between 1.9 and 4 inches.
10. Bumble Flower Beetle
Bumble flower beetles aren’t very flowery in appearance. They’re black beetles, after all, and typically have black or very dark brown bodies. They love sap and pollen and can be pretty destructive in a flower garden or on a farm.
Bumble flower beetles are common across the U.S., including Georgia. They’re very attracted to corn and farmers consider them an extreme nuisance. Because they resemble scarab beetles, the two are often confused with one another.
Summary of 10 Beetles in Georgia
Here’s a recap of the 10 beetles we took a look at that can be found in the state of Georgia.
|Docile despite size and appearance
|Asian Lady Beetle
|Consumes aphids, mites, and arthropods; will bite if feel threatened
|Black Carpet Beetle
|Feasts on carpet, where hair from pets and people containing keratin is
|Varied Carpet Beetle
|Love to eat carpets, stuffed animals, leather, and cardboard from dried goods containers
|Known for wiping out entire lawns within a few days
|Spends most of its life in the soil and can’t fly
|Bites can cause painful blisters
|Eyed Click Beetle
|Found on trees, especially oak and cherry trees
|Black Turpentine Beetle
|Often damage pine trees to the point where they die
|Bumble Flower Beetle
|Very attracted to corn and farmers consider it a pest
The number of beetles crawling in Georgia is enough to fill an encyclopedia. However, most of them aren’t indigenous to Georgia. They mostly just call Georgia home while members of their species and family of beetles are found up and down the east coast, deep in the South, and well into the mid-west.
Georgia is currently undergoing a steep increase in black beetles. The good news is, black beetles are often not as destructive as their carpet beetle cousins. Some are dangerous to trees but Georgia isn’t under threat of major deforestation because of the existence of black beetles. Ultimately, Georgia is much like surrounding states, rife with beetles of every color and stripe.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © fukushima_insectarium/Shutterstock.com
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