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Are Large Noisy Beetles Causing Garden Problems?

Categorized: Gardens, Home & Garden Pests

BROOKINGS, S.D. - If you've seen a large noisy beetle resembling a June beetle in your yard or garden this fall, you're not alone. Adam Varenhorst, Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Field Crop Entomologist said the SDSU Extension team has been receiving reports of the bumble flower beetle.

"They show up later in the season and feed on ripe garden produce," Varenhorst explained.

Although the bumble flower beetle and June beetle are related, Varenhorst said there are quite a few characteristics that can be used to tell them apart. "One of the biggest differences is the timing of their arrival," he said. "June beetles are most frequently observed from May to June, while the bumble flower beetle appears from late July until the first hard frost."

Another distinguishing characteristic of the bumble flower beetle is its light to dark brown body color with black and light mottling patterns (Figure 1). Bumble flower beetles are also mostly covered in dense, light-colored hairs, and make a very noticeable buzzing sound while flying (Figure 2).

Not a pest to worry about

Although these beetles often get blamed for damage to tomatoes and apples, Varenhorst says the criticism isn't fair because they are only feeding on produce that was already damaged.

"The bumble flower beetles are attracted to sweet or fermenting liquids and ripening crops," he said. "Bumble flower beetles are not considered a major pest, and the best way to manage them is to remove them from infested areas and destroy them."

In addition, routine picking and removing of damaged produce from the garden can reduce the presence of bumble flower beetles.

For apple trees, Varenhorst encouraged the removal of any blemished apples and ground falls from around the base of the tree.

"Doing so should noticeably reduce bumble flower beetle numbers," he said.

Have a pest you can't identify? Let SDSU Extension help, email your photos of insects for identification to Varenhorst by email; Amanda Bachmann, SDSU Extension Pesticide Education & Urban Entomology Field Specialist by email or Patrick Wagner, SDSU Extension Entomology Field Specialist by email.

Courtesy of Joseph Berger, Bugwood. Figure 1. Bumble flower beetle adult with visible mottling pattern.

Courtesy of Joseph Berger, Bugwood. Figure 2. Bumble flower beetle with noticeably hairy body. 

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