Bug News

Bug News

Observations, factoids, funny clips, and lots of bugs and other nature related images.

5-Minute Read

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear “scarab beetle”? Egypt and hieroglyphics? Flesh-eating beetles that chase you when you disturb a mummy? Guess what? We have dangerous scarab beetles here in the US too. One of which is the infamous Japanese Beetle.

The Japanese Beetle, Popillia japonica, is a type of scarab beetle found in the taxonomic family Scarabaeidae. That’s actually why scarabs are called scarabs – they’re all part of the same family. There are many different species of scarab beetle (over 30,000!), and they are found all over the world.

Japanese Beetle on my strawberry plants

The Japanese Beetle is an introduced pest species originally from, you guessed it, Japan. It was first introduced to the states way back in 1916 in New Jersey. Since then it has steadily been expanding in all directions. It is a terrible agricultural, garden, and turf grass pest.

Adult Japanese Beetles can quickly devour the leaves of over 300 different trees, shrubs, and plants. Like my poor strawberry plants and raspberry bushes shown in the photos. I promptly disposed of the beetles once I took some photos. Its important to keep Japanese Beetle populations in check, because they can quickly skeletonize the leaves of entire plants if there is a large population outbreak. Even a small population of thee beetles can cause a lot of damage. Want to see how I recycle some of the beetles I have to remove to save my plants? Check out this Japanese Beetle Necklace and matching earrings.

Japanese Beetles mating on a leaf they've chewed up

The larvae (aka baby beetles, aka white grubs) aren’t any better than the adults when it comes to plant damage. Unlike the adults though, the larvae hide in the soil and eat the roots of our grass. If you get a lot of them in your lawn, or maybe on the golf course, they can leave large patches of discolored or dead grass. Super destructive creatures at any age. On the bright side, at least we don’t have to worry about the Japanese Beetle chasing us around trying to eat our flesh! That’s just in the movies. They are only dangerous to our plants.

Fun note, if you are trying to catch Japanese Beetles by hand, as I was to take them off my plants, hold a pan or container of some kind underneath them. Most insects will promptly try to fly upwards to escape, because, well, they can fly and we can’t. Many herbivorous beetles, including the Japanese Beetle, will actually just “drop” or “fall” off of the plant they are on if disturbed. They do have wings and can fly (most beetles can), but instead they “drop”. So if you are trying to collect or remove them from your plants, hold something under the plant so they don’t get away when you go to grab or smash them.

Want to learn more about Japanese Beetles? The USDA has a really useful handbook with lots of pictures and maps HERE. Its free :)

Japanese Beetles exhibiting defensive leg posture

Questions? Comments?

We’re still trying to figure out how to add comment boxes to the blog, so in the meantime, send me an email!


Join the email list

Want Bug News stories & announcements sent to your inbox? Join the Bug News email list


Support the blog!

Like my blog? Want to help keep the new content coming and the pages ad free? Consider becoming one of my Patreon Patrons! Any amount, big or small, helps me spend more time creating and less time trying to keep the lights on. Patreon Patrons can also get exclusive access to monthly newsletters, story sneak peeks, story requests, and more! Please consider supporting the blog and check out my Patreon Patron support page.

Ok, you say, but what is this Patreon thing you are talking about? Patreon is a service that helps connect content creators with folks who want to help support creative endeavors. Patreon is setup to be able to safely handle the financial side of transactions so both the patron and the creator can be confident their information is secure. You can read more about what Patreon is HERE.

Thank you!!


Not interested in a Patreon monthly subscription? Prefer to make a one-time contribution? We have that option too! Help support the blog with a one-time donation through PayPal instead! Thank you!!



As an entomologist and gardener, I am well familiar with these pestiferous beetles and generally consider them terrible nuisances. However, if I try to view them from an unbiased perspective, they are actually rather pretty aren’t they? With their metallic sheen and bronze and green coloring…. If you can get over the fact that they eat all your plants, or just think they’re pretty, or are otherwise a beetle aficionado, you may enjoy the results of my pest control/recycling/craft project:



The links below are Amazon.com affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. This helps pay for my blog and keeps it clean and ad free. I am very selective about what I recommend. The books below are all ones on my shelf that I regularly reference…

Recent Posts

Blog Topics

About

Written by an entomologist for the enjoyment of all... The goal is to post something new every Wednesday and on the weekends, so stay tuned!