African Fruit Beetle: Essential Facts and Fascinating Insights

The African Fruit Beetle is an intriguing insect that you may come across while exploring nature. These beetles are known for the vibrant colors and distinct features that make them stand out.

Some African Fruit Beetles are known to inhabit southern regions of California, such as the Green June Beetle, which displays a metallic green color and can grow up to 1 inch long with bronze to yellow margins on their bodies.

Another example is the large African hive beetle, which is not only fascinating for its appearance but also for its predatory behavior towards the brood of social wasps.

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There’s a lot to learn and discover about these beetles! So, let’s dive into the key characteristics and features of the African Fruit Beetle that you need to know.

African Fruit Beetle: Overview

The African Fruit Beetle, scientifically known as Pachnoda marginata, is a type of beetle native to Africa. They are characterized by their:

  • Bright coloration (usually yellow with black or brown markings)
  • Relatively large size (about 2.5 cm in length)
  • Inclination to feed on fruits, nectar, and other plant matter

Distribution and Habitat

African Fruit Beetles are widely distributed across the African continent, inhabiting various environments. Their preferred habitats include tropical forests, savannas, and agricultural areas.

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Lifecycle and Development

Eggs to Grubs

The African fruit beetle’s lifecycle begins with the laying of small, oval-shaped eggs.

These eggs are typically deposited in decomposing plant material or rotting fruit, providing a nutrient-rich environment for the developing grubs. Hatching from the eggs takes around 5-7 days.

Upon hatching, the newly emerged grubs are white, almost transparent, and start feeding on the decomposing matter in their environment.

Throughout this stage, they grow and molt their exoskeleton to accommodate their size.

Larvae and Pupae

As the grubs grow, they gradually darken in color and begin the process of metamorphosis.

They form a hard, brown pupal skin. Inside this protective covering, the grub undergoes significant changes, transforming into an adult beetle.

Key characteristics of the pupa stage:

  • The pupal stage lasts 10-14 days.
  • Protective covering shields the transforming insect.
  • Pupae do not feed or move.

Adult Beetle Stage

After the metamorphosis is complete, the adult African fruit beetle emerges from the pupal case. These winged beetles are known for their vibrant colors and strong, oval-shaped bodies.

Some features of the adult beetles:

  • Attractive, bright colors for mating advantages.
  • Strong fliers, covering larger distances in search of food.
  • Lifespan of an adult beetle ranges from 4-8 weeks.

The adult beetles feed on ripe and overripe fruits, making them potential pests in fruit gardens. They mate, lay eggs, and complete the cycle.

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Diet and Feeding Habits

Ripe and Overripe Fruit

African Fruit Beetles primarily consume ripe and overripe fruit. Examples of fruit they prefer include:

  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Guava

As the fruit softens, the beetles feed by extracting the juices. This allows them to obtain necessary nutrients from the fruit.

Flower Feeding

Besides fruit, African Fruit Beetles also feed on nectar, tree sap, and certain flowers. They use their mouthparts to pierce and suck the nectar from:

  • Hibiscus
  • Lilies
  • Orchids

This feeding habit does not typically harm the flowers but does provide a food source for the beetles.

Plant Roots

In their larval stage, these beetles eat plant roots. They often target grasses, shrubs, and smaller plants. This behavior helps to control overgrowth in certain ecosystems.

Role of African Fruit Beetles in Ecosystem

African Fruit Beetles play an essential role in the ecosystem, including:

  • Decomposition: By feeding on overripe fruit, African Fruit Beetles help with the breakdown process.
  • Pollination: As they visit flowers for nectar, they inadvertently assist with pollination.
  • Food source: These beetles are prey for birds, small mammals, and other insects in the food chain.
Food SourceStage of LifeExamples
Ripe FruitAdultMango, Pineapple, Banana
Flower NectarAdultHibiscus, Lilies, Orchids
Tree SapAdult
Plant RootsLarvalGrasses, Shrubs, Plants

Reproduction

The African Fruit Beetle’s reproduction cycle begins with mating. Males detect the presence of females by their scent and approach them for mating.

During courtship, males often exhibit various behaviors such as flying around the female to gain her attention.

Laying Eggs

After a successful mating, the female African Fruit Beetle lays her eggs in suitable locations, often within fruit or organic waste.

Approximately one week later, eggs hatch into larvae, which begin feeding on the surrounding materials and commence the next stage of their life cycle.

African Fruit Beetles as Pests

African Fruit Beetles are known to cause significant harm to various crops and plants. They feed on fruits, flowers, and foliage, causing the following damage:

  • Fruits: Beetles chew holes in ripe or overripe fruits, causing physical damage and leading to mold growth.
  • Flowers: Beetles consume petals, leading to a decrease in pollination and the overall aesthetic of ornamental plants, parks, and gardens.
  • Foliage: These beetles can strip the leaves, causing stunted growth or even the death of plants.

Examples of affected plants include citrus, mango, guava, and various ornamental plants.

Managing Beetle Infestations

There are multiple methods to manage African Fruit Beetle infestations effectively, such as:

  1. Trapping: Use pheromone or baited traps, which attract beetles and prevent them from causing damage to plants.
  2. Cultural Control: Remove fallen and fermenting fruits or decaying vegetation, which serve as beetle breeding sites.
  3. Chemical Control: Apply insecticides to plants when beetles are most active, following the product guidelines and requirements.

The following table shows the pros and cons of each method.

MethodProsCons
TrappingEnvironmentally friendly, low maintenanceMay not remove all beetles, can be expensive
Cultural ControlLong-term prevention, sustainableRequires vigilant care and maintenance
Chemical ControlEffective in controlling beetle numbersToxic, may affect beneficial insects and fauna

Conclusion

The African Fruit Beetle is a captivating insect with its vibrant colors and unique characteristics.

While these beetles play important roles in the ecosystem, they can also be pests, causing damage to crops and plants. It is essential to actively manage African Fruit Beetle infestations to minimize the damage to crops and plants.

By adopting a mix of trapping, cultural control, and chemical control when necessary, infestations can be managed efficiently and effectively.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

36 thoughts on “African Fruit Beetle: Essential Facts and Fascinating Insights”

  1. It does look like the white fruit chafer but i have to disagree,India shares many of its species with Africa so it may be possible that this beetle is a sub species of white chafer.Chafer is black and this one is metallic and the spots are different too.No luck on hoverfly then? Satpura hills have many insects I’ve never seen on the internet..Its okay,thanks for the help.

    Reply
  2. Hi Peter, just for interests sake the range of Ranzania extends considerably beyond Zimbabwe, I caught one on the Mozambique coast in Tofo December 2010. Holding on to it while I got my phone and tape was a task, it’s strength was remarkable! This specimen was huge, and believe it or not measured 45mm from head to rear of abdomen and the widest part of the Elytra was 30mm across. I got it to stay stationary for a second while I placed it gently onto my open palm to photograph but it flew off before I was able! A great pity, apart from it’s magnificence, I would have appreciated being able to share it’s size with interested folk.

    Reply
  3. I spotted one just yesterday (30 Nov 2015) in my herb garden and was searching on the internet what beetle it is! I live in Bloemfontein all my live and have never seen one till now. Maybe one of my herbs attracted it.Thank you for this info! I figure that they are not a welcome gest in my herb garden?

    Reply
  4. Hi – I’m also in Cape Town and I have many of these on my fruit trees, how do you get rid of them as organically as possible.

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  5. Gracias, Daniel! I had spent hours scouring this and other sites. The closest I had come was the Green June Beetle, (Cotinis nitida) but knew that wasn’t correct. Now I know. Much appreciated!

    Reply
  6. Yvonne.madelene@gmail.com
    Yes I also have a lot flying around an indigenous bush with purple flowers. I live in Bloubergstrand and now they’re invading the house. I’ve just left them alone as they are seasonal. Pity about your roses though. They don’t do much damage to my indigenous bush. Try sunlight liquid diluted in water in a spray bottle.

    Reply
  7. Yvonne.madelene@gmail.com
    Yes I also have a lot flying around an indigenous bush with purple flowers. I live in Bloubergstrand and now they’re invading the house. I’ve just left them alone as they are seasonal. Pity about your roses though. They don’t do much damage to my indigenous bush. Try sunlight liquid diluted in water in a spray bottle.

    Reply
  8. Something totally destroyed my Japanese maple and ate all the leaves leaving them holey. I found one of these beetles in the pot yesterday ☹️ I think I found the culprit.

    Reply
    • Harm is a tricky word. A person driving a car might get hysterical if a Green Fruit Beetle flies into the car, and during the hysteria, the driver might crash and get injured. A dog might chase a Green Fruit Beetle out into the street and get hit by a car. Green Fruit Beetles are not venomous or toxic, and they do not sting nor bite. You be the judge if they are harmful to humans and pets.

      Reply
  9. I found a dead Fruit Chafer in my living room. I identified it by trying Black Beetle with white spots on google. However it is described as a black beetle with 8 white spots, but it has two more white spots underneath which amounts to 10. Am I correct ?

    Reply
  10. Is this not a Taurhina Splendens ?
    Found one in my garden today Feb 16th , feeding on the sap of an acacia , apparently they do this and feed on mangoes , supposed to occur in hot humid tropical climates , in SA in the Limpopo area . The one I saw has a white top , I believe your pic is a female .

    Reply
  11. Is this not a Taurhina Splendens ?
    Found one in my garden today Feb 16th , feeding on the sap of an acacia , apparently they do this and feed on mangoes , supposed to occur in hot humid tropical climates , in SA in the Limpopo area . The one I saw has a white top , I believe your pic is a female .

    Reply
    • The Regal Fruit Chafer and Rove Beetles are both classified as Beetles in the insect order Coleoptera, but the Chafer is in the Scarab Beetle family Scarabaeidae, while Rove Beetles are classified in the family Staphylinidae.

      Reply
  12. I have plenty of these in my garden. I have a custard apple tree and the on the leaves. Also on my veggies. Are they a problem for my custard apple fruits. Do I need yo get rid of them?? Please help

    Reply
  13. I have loads on my roses up in Pretoria – last year and this year (2021-2022). Never seen them before. I think they have semi-grated from Cape Town! I am picking them off and putting them in soapy water – also don’t like to use poisons.

    Reply
    • Same here, a major new problem for roses in Gauteng. I don’t know what brought them here, but they’re now here in numbers.. 🙁

      Reply
    • So far I expect Neem oil might be the most organic solution. There’s a shop in Pretoria that sells it cheap called “organicsmatter”

      Reply

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