In the springtime you may notice large numbers of brown and iridescent green beetles around your lawn and garden. These are June bugs. The brown variety are usually present in greater numbers, while the green variety (also known as scarab beetles) are a bit less common.
Generally speaking, you see the brown June bugs at night swarming around your porch light or streetlights. Scarab beetles are out during the day. Although they appear quite different, these two types of beetles are closely related.
Both types of beetles begin their lives as grubs under the soil of your lawn or garden. They grow and thrive by eating the roots of plants. When they emerge in the spring time (usually during the months of May and June) they move on to do moderate damage to your flowers, veggies, grass, shrubs and trees.
In this article, we will answer some frequently asked questions about June bugs and provide some smart tips to help you cope with them. Read on to learn more:
June Bug Questions & Answers
1. Where are June bugs most commonly found?
You’ll find June bugs all across North America and in many other locations around the globe. They are most common in very warm areas, and they are quite abundant in the US southern states.
2. What do June bugs look like?
Brown June bugs are about an inch long and they are oblong. They have plain brown, hard wings. Their bellies are usually yellowish or greenish. Being insects, they have six legs that have rough, hairy protrusions.
Green June bugs are actually rather attractive. They are a deep, iridescent, emerald green in color. Their bellies are golden. They are smaller than brown June bugs, and they are almost pentagonal in shape. Their bodies are rather flattish, whereas brown June bugs are more rounded.
3. Will June bugs hurt you?
June bugs don’t bite. You will almost never encounter the green ones as they are fewer in number and don’t tend to swarm about.
When you walk through a lighted area at night in a warm climate, you are very likely to encounter dozens, if not hundreds, of brown June bugs. They may bumble into you, and they may crawl on you and feel strange but they will not bite you or hurt you.
4. How long do June bugs live?
In beetle form, June bugs live a very short time. After they emerge from the soil in late May and June, the adult beetles live for only a couple of months. During this time, the females may lay as many as 75 eggs, and therein lies your problem!
Those 75 eggs hatch into grubs that live in the soil underneath your lawn or garden for almost a year happily munching away on the roots of your plants. This is especially irksome if you are trying to grow root crops such as potatoes and carrots.
If you have a heavy infestation of June bug grubs, you may even see your turf begin to peel up from the soil as the roots are chewed clean through. June bug larvae predation will also damage other flowers and plants in your yard. In fact, they may quickly lay waste to your vegetable seedlings when you put them out in the spring time.
If you have an especially heavy infestation of June bug larvae, you may find that the ground underfoot in your yard feels very spongy. This is because these grubs tunnel vigorously in search of new food.
5. What sort of damage to adult June bugs do?
As adults, June bugs don’t actually do much damage. They do eat some tree leaves (e.g. oak and walnut). They may also eat moss off tree bark leaving unattractive dead spots in their wake.
The main damage they do is simply to reproduce. As noted, a single female June bug can lay as many as 75 eggs a year. 75 multiplied by the number of June bugs currently in your yard is a whole lot of June bugs!
Female June bugs usually lay eggs in the late summer. The grubs over-winter in the soil and metamorphose into beetles when the weather warms up in the spring.
6. What eats June bugs?
Irritating as they are, June bugs are an abundant source of protein for many wild critters. This is both a curse and a blessing, depending upon your situation. Understand that if you have lots of June bugs and June bug grubs in your yard, your space will be very attractive to wildlife such as:
- Box Turtles
Most of this wildlife is beneficial, but some can cause you problems. For example, gophers, moles and armadillos can lay waste to your lawn by digging burrows looking for June bug grubs.
Toads, box turtles and possums, on the other hand, are beneficial. While possums can be somewhat problematic if they take up residence in your attic or under your house, toads and box turtles are entirely beneficial. Having them in your yard and garden is a very good thing, indeed.
It goes without saying that it’s best not to attract skunks to your yard because of their tendency to spray when frightened and because of the very real danger of rabies. It is worth noting that possums almost never contract rabies. In fact, you can count the number of documented cases ever on one hand. This is because possums have a very low body temperature that will not support the rabies virus.
June bugs also attract meat-eating birds such as Blue Jays, mockingbirds, crows, owls and others. If you have chickens, they will certainly enjoy your June bugs. Common lizards and geckos also eat June bugs, as do most reptiles.
7. Can June bugs be dealt with entirely naturally?
If you want to attract wildlife to your yard, you may not consider June bugs to be a problem. A healthy population of native wildlife in your yard may establish a very good balance and keep your June bug numbers controllable.
It is also possible to reduce the number of grubs in the soil by introducing nematodes. These very tiny, structurally simple creatures live in the soil and are parasitic to June bug grubs and other insect pests that are also soil dwellers.
Having healthy population of nematodes in your soil can help keep your June bug grubs under control. To use nematodes, purchase them online or at your local garden center and follow package directions to introduce them to your soil in the late summer at about the same time female June bugs lay their eggs.
Another natural substance you can introduce to your soil is called milky spore. This is a bacterium (Bacillus popillate– Dutky) that combats all lawn grubs organically. It will not only reduce the numbers of June bug grubs in your soil, it also works against Japanese beetle larvae, maggots, flea larvae, cut-worms and more.
8. Should you use pesticide to control June bugs?
While it is certainly possible to enlist a pest control company or to spray poison all over your yard yourself, this is the least desirable way of controlling June bugs. When you poison June bugs and their larvae, you also poison beneficial flora and fauna in your yard. You endanger your own health with exposure to pesticides, and you run the risk of polluting the water table and waterways with runoff from pesticides.
However a couple of options. Apply Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to control the June bug grubs in the lawn. And according to pest killed.com.
“To kill recently hatched grubs, choose an insecticide product that contains clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam or chlorantraniloprole. These products should be applied any time from late July to early September. Timing matters because these ingredients aren’t as effective if applied later in the fall when the grubs are larger. Apply the insecticide too early, however, and it will wash away before the grubs are even present.” [source]
9. Is there a safe way to directly control June bugs?
You can deal with the damage you see and with the individual June bugs you see on a case-by-case basis. When you see damaged plants and grass in your yard, take positive and specific steps to remove damaged organic material; eradicate any June bug infestation you may see; amend the soil and replace the plants.
Seek out brown June bugs in your yard in the early morning hours when they are subdued after a night’s activity. Collect them and dispose of them by either dropping them in hot soapy water or, if you have chickens, giving your hens a feast!
You can also reduce the numbers of June bugs in your yard by keeping your grass mowed a little bit higher throughout the hot summer months. Tall grass discourages adult June bug females from laying eggs. They prefer to lay their eggs in very short grass.
Keeping your grass a little bit taller will help it to retain moisture and reduce the amount that you need to water. Wet grass is also attractive to June bugs, so by keeping your grass longer you discourage them in multiple ways.
Focus On Controlling June Bugs Rather Than Eliminating Them
No matter how hard you try, you will never eliminate June bugs. You could poison every existing adult and every grub on your property this year and new ones would just come along and take their place next year. Rather than opting for elimination, focus on establishing a balance, attracting beneficial wildlife and being vigilant in keeping your June bug numbers under control.