African Fruit Beetle: OverviewThe 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 HabitatAfrican Fruit Beetles are widely distributed across the African continent, inhabiting various environments. Their preferred habitats include tropical forests, savannas, and agricultural areas.
Lifecycle and Development
Eggs to GrubsThe 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 PupaeAs 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 StageAfter 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.
Diet and Feeding Habits
Ripe and Overripe FruitAfrican Fruit Beetles primarily consume ripe and overripe fruit. Examples of fruit they prefer include:
Flower FeedingBesides fruit, African Fruit Beetles also feed on nectar, tree sap, and certain flowers. They use their mouthparts to pierce and suck the nectar from:
Plant RootsIn 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 EcosystemAfrican 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 Source||Stage of Life||Examples|
|Ripe Fruit||Adult||Mango, Pineapple, Banana|
|Flower Nectar||Adult||Hibiscus, Lilies, Orchids|
|Plant Roots||Larval||Grasses, Shrubs, Plants|
ReproductionThe 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 EggsAfter 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 PestsAfrican 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.
Managing Beetle InfestationsThere are multiple methods to manage African Fruit Beetle infestations effectively, such as:
- Trapping: Use pheromone or baited traps, which attract beetles and prevent them from causing damage to plants.
- Cultural Control: Remove fallen and fermenting fruits or decaying vegetation, which serve as beetle breeding sites.
- Chemical Control: Apply insecticides to plants when beetles are most active, following the product guidelines and requirements.
|Trapping||Environmentally friendly, low maintenance||May not remove all beetles, can be expensive|
|Cultural Control||Long-term prevention, sustainable||Requires vigilant care and maintenance|
|Chemical Control||Effective in controlling beetle numbers||Toxic, may affect beneficial insects and fauna|
ConclusionThe 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.
African Fruit Beetle – Letters from ReadersThe African Fruit Beetle is one of the most famous insects that our readers talk about and ask to know about. Over the last two decades, we have received dozens of emails from our readers asking us to identify this beautiful insect. We have reproduced some of the best ones with some beautiful images for you to have a look.
Letter 1 – White Spotted Fruit Chafer from South AfricaSubject: Black beetle with 8 white dots Location: Cape Town South Africa November 15, 2014 7:03 am Hi There I hope you can help me identify this beetle. I have searched but can’t find a pic of this particular one. I am from Cape Town South Africa and every year in November to December (summer season) this beetle visits and eats my roses. It climbs inside the rose buds and eats them. What beetle is this and what can I do to protect my roses from them. I do not believe in using pesticides. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks in advance. Signature: Any Dear Any, We quickly identified your beetle as a White Spotted Fruit Chafer, Mausoleopsis amabilis, on BioDiversity Explorer, and then we located additional images on iSpot.
Letter 2 – Giant Emerald Fruit Chafer from South AfricaSubject: Scarab beetle South Africa Location: South Africa Lowveld January 16, 2017 11:02 am Hi. Can you identify this South Africa species? First time I have seen one. I live in the Lowveld in South Africa Signature: Francois Lloyd Dear Francois, We identified your Scarab Beetle as a Giant Emerald Fruit Chafer, Dicronorrhina derbyana subsp. derbyana, thanks to images posted to iSpot. According to iNaturalist: “These attractive beetles are mainly present in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.”
Letter 3 – Zig-Zag Fruit Chafer from South AfricaSubject: Stink bug from South Africa? Location: KwaZulu Natal, South Africa January 10, 2017 10:03 am Hi there! This chappy was found on the Indian ocean coast of South Africa – do you know if this is a type of stink bug? Thank you for all the wonderful work you do! Signature: Cat from South Africa Dear Cat, This is NOT a Stink Bug. It is a Scarab Beetle, and more specifically, we identified it as a Zig-Zag Fruit Chafer, Anisorrhina flavomaculata, thanks to BioDiversity Explorer. The species is also well represented on iSpot.
Letter 4 – White Spotted Fruit Chafer from South AfricaSubject: Beetle Location: Cape Town, South Africa November 18, 2015 6:36 am This is a picture of a beetle we saw in Cape Town, South Africa. I searched for a picture to identify beetle but could not get one. I used to see the yellow and black one but never saw this one. Signature: Pietman Dear Pietman, Commonly called a White Spotted Fruit Chafer, Mausoleopsis amabilis, is a Scarab Beetle found in South Africa.
Letter 5 – Probably White Spotted Fruit Chafer from IndiaSubject: Beetle Identification Location: Malwa plateau,India September 7, 2013 7:38 am Hello Bugman,first time submitter long time visitor,great job you people are doing :).I have found some interesting critters from Madhya Pradesh, India and i am very good at following clues in my google searches but these two buggers i can’t identify (one is a hoverfly and second one is a beetle)..All photos are mine.BTW,what if i find a new species? Signature: flyingbirdman Dear flyingbirdman, We believe we have correctly identified your Scarab Beetle as a White Spotted Fruit Chafer, Mausoleopsis amabilis. We began with a web search of “spotted scarab India” and found a funny blog called Elephant’s Eye with some photos that look very similar to your beetle. Armed with a name, we found numerous sites including BioDiversity Explorer with images of the White Spotted Fruit Chafer from South Africa. Project Noah places the species in India as well. We will also attempt to identify your Hover Fly.
Letter 6 – Even Green Fruit Beetles Do It!!Love bugs Thanks for indentifying my Ten-lined June Beetle. I was in my garage today in Placentia Ca. and found what I believe to be “Green Fruit Beetles”, based on pictures that I saw on your site. They seemed to locked in serious mating mode and were not disturbed by the close proximity of the macro lense. Thought you might want to add them to your amorous bug section. Thanks Rus Hi Rus, If you keep this up, we will have to give you your own page. Nice images of the mating activity of Green Fruit Beetles, Cotinus mutabilis.
Letter 7 – Fruit Chafer from Costa Rica: Cotinis lebasiSubject: Costa Rican Green Beetle Location: Quepos, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica August 14, 2016 1:58 pm I saw this little guy while on vacation in Costa Rica, within 2 miles of the Pacific Coast near Quepos. Date taken: July 31st, 2016. Thanks for your help! Signature: Daniel W. Dear Daniel, Your beetle is very similar looking to the Green Fruit Beetle or Figeater, Cotinis mutabilis, that is quite common in Southern California, but there are enough differences to cause us to doubt that possibility. Tried though we might, we could not easily locate information, though we did find the InBio site that states: “Fruit beetles, or Cetoniinae, belong to the family Scarabaeidae, whose members include very well known beetles such as golden beetles, rhinoceros beetles and may beetles. … To date, 35 species in 13 genera have been found in Costa Rica. The greatest number of species may be observed during the months of May to July, and their number decreases over the following months. … In general, it is possible to find adult Cetoniinae feeding on sweet, ripe, soft and juicy fruits, nectar in flowers and sap of some plants, probably attracted by the odor. In Costa Rica it is common to see them feeding on ripe mangos, bananas, blackberries, papaya and other fuits. [sic]” What your individual seems to lack is the brown border along the edge of the elytra or wing covers, but this image from ZipCodeZoo that seems to have been taken in Atenguillo, Mexico looks very much like your individual. ZipCodeZoo does list Costa Rica as part of the range. Considering ZipCodeZoo lists a Tiger Beetle with the same name, we now doubt the credibility of the information on the site. We cannot commit fully to this being a Figeater, but we are confident it is in the Fruit and Flower Chafer subfamily Cetoniinae, and we believe it is in the same genus, Cotinis. Your species appears to be on the cover of the book “Escarabajos fruteros de Costa Rica (Cetoniinae) / Fruit Beetles of Costa Rica” by Ángel Solís that is listed on Amazon.com. We wrote to Ángel Solís Dear Angel Solis, I run a pop culture website www.whatsthatbug.com and I was asked to identify a Fruit Beetle from Costa Rica. I cannot find any similar images online. I suspect it is in the genus Cotinis, but it is distinctly different from our Southern California Figeater, Cotinis mutabilis. Are you able to provide a species identification? Thanks for any assistance you can provide. Daniel Marlos Ángel Solís Responds Dear Daniel Marlos: Is Cotinis lebasi. Saludos Ange Solís Ed. Note: Cotinis lebasi is pictured on the Generic Guide to New World Scarab Beetles and on Bold Systems Taxonomy.
Letter 8 – Fruit Chafer from IsraelSubject: Whats that bug? Location: Israel January 29, 2016 9:39 am Hi, Can you help me identify this one? You might have to zoom in the photo, but that’s the best I’ve got. Hope you can help! Thanks, Signature: NZ Dear NZ, Luckily there is a relatively robust network of folks in Israel who are interested in insects. We learned the identity of your Fruit Chafer, Tropinota vittula, thanks to the Scarabs of the Levant site where it states: “The Cetoniinae are popularly called fruit and flower chafers, flower beetles and flower scarabs. Many species are diurnal and visit flowers for pollen and nectar, or to browse on the petals. Some species also take fruit few are termitophil.” There are additional images on Israel’s Nature Site, but alas, we do not read Hebrew. There are also images on Al’s Photo Page and a scholarly article entitled Tropinota vittula is a Good Species may provide you with additional information.
Letter 9 – Fruit Chafer from South Africa is Pedinorrhina trivittataSubject: Beetles Location: South Africa November 21, 2014 4:23 am Hello. I have been trying to identify this “heart beetle”- do you perhaps know what it is called? I found it on my chair at Kruger National Park in South Africa in October (Spring). The other beetle is just really pretty – amazing colours! Found by the car in a parking lot in Rustenburg, South Africa in November (Summer). Thanks 🙂 Signature: Kareen Dear Kareen, Our favorite place to identify South African insects is iSpot where we identified your Fruit Chafer as Pedinorrhina trivittata. We believe the green beetle is a Leaf Beetle, and we will do a unique posting of it eventually.
Letter 10 – Fuzzy Wetland Fruit Chafer from South AfricaSubject: Fuzzy Wetland Fruit Chafer Location: Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, South Africa January 23, 2014 11:09 pm Photographed this insect earlier this week on the Mpumalanga highlands in South Africa (2050m), Fuzzy Wetland Fruit Chafer (Gnathocera hirta), apparently very little known about them. Thought I would add it to your collection. Signature: Charl Hi Charl, Your photos are quite excellent. We tried to substantiate the information you provided, and we could only locate one image of Gnathocera hirta on ALD Entomology. We couldn’t locate any information on the Fuzzy Wetland Fruit Chafer. Where did you get your information? Is there an online source that can provide our readers with a link? Do you know the plant it was photographed upon? Thanks again. Hi Daniel, The link as requested http://www.ispot.org.za/node/234277?nav=users_observations It was photographed on a blade of grass. Kind regards, Charl. Thanks so much for providing the link Charl. Riaan Stals’ comments on your photos are very helpful, including: “The ground colour of the elytra may vary from coppery [like here] to green, and the white spots on the elytra are rather variable, but always clustered toward the outer margins.”
Letter 11 – Giant Emerald Green Fruit Chafers and possibly Zig Zag Fruit ChafersSubject: Identification Request Location: Reitvlei Nature Reserve, Johannesburg, South Africa January 15, 2017 Hello Daniel, I trust this note finds you well. I need some help, again. Ref subj.! and attached. I took this recently at the Reitvlei Nature Reserve near Jhb, not the best of photos, but will suffice. I went back there last Saturday but they were ALL gone. I thought some Scarab beetle of some description, ( They seemed to be fighting over mating or territorial rights), but the big green ones fly around sounding like bumble bees, which they are not. I understand you are busy , but please let me know when you can. The tip wilters are slowly growing into fully fledged ones. I’ll send a pic when I can Thanks again. Gary Dear Gary, The green Scarabs appear to be Giant Emerald Green Fruit Chafers, Dicronorrhina derbyana subsp. derbyana, and the smaller brown Scarabs are definitely a different species, possibly the Zig Zag Fruit Chafers, Anisorrhina flavomaculata, which are pictured on iSpot. In the future, please submit images using our standard form which can be accessed by clicking the Ask What’s That Bug? link on our site.
Letter 12 – Regal Fruit Chafer from Zimbabwe: Ranzania splendens petersianaSubject: Unusual beetle Location: Murambi East suburb of Mutare, Manicaland, Zimbabwe December 16, 2013 4:56 am Hello, Found a very unusual beetle this morning in a compost heap at the back of the garden. Have never seen anything like it before. Has a brilliant green “eye” on its brown carapace which shifts position depending on the direction of illumination. Has a most unusual white “snout” more like a platypus bill than a rhino horn. The beetle is about 3 centimeters long and moves quite fast. Would be very interested to know what it is. Thanks Signature: Peter Lowenstein Dear Peter, This is truly a spectacular Scarab Beetle. We struggled for some time with its identity, and we eventually found a matching photo on Beetles of Africa where it is identified as Ranzania splendens petersiana. The family is listed as Goliathini, though we believe that to be the tribe and the family to be Scarabaeidae. Beetles of Africa indicates this lovely beetle is from Malawi and Zimbabwe and states: “This beautiful shovel snout is a sap and fruit feeder.” There are some beautiful photos of this species on Insectmania. Flower Beetles.com has some information on breeding in captivity. Dear Daniel, Many thanks for your prompt reply with the positive identification and references. Looks like our emails with my notification of tentative identification by a local friend (copy attached) have crossed. The photos on Insectmania are indeed beautiful as is the creature. I returned my specimen to the compost heap after taking several photos but was quite reluctant to do so. Am not therefore surprised to learn that they are bred in captivity. Your assistance and interesting links very much appreciated. Kind regards and best wishes, Peter Ed. Note: The Crossed Email Hi, A friend here in Mutare has identified the beetle as Tauhrina Splendens – using the book “Insects of South Africa” – copy of entry and photo attached. Have done a Google Advanced Image Search on Taurhina Splendens which turned up a website http://www.ispot.org.za/species_dictionary/Taurhina%20splendens with a description and a photo of the beetle which looks similar to mine (attached). Thought I would let you know straight away for your information and records and save you the job of searching for it. Kind regards, Peter Ed. Note: Regal Fruit Chafer December 17, 2013 In attempting to identify another South African Scarab, we stumbled upon a nice image of the Regal Fruit Chafer on BioDiversity Explorer.
Letter 13 – Green Fruit Beetlegreen fruit beetle Just to thank you for the informative and entertaining site and supply a photo of a green fruit bettle, Cotinus mutibilis, id’d from your site. They’re impressive in size, and it’s hard to do their brilliant green color justice in a photo. Taken at Tijuana River Estuary, Imperial Beach, CA, July 17, 2005 (with my bird lens). Best wishes, Robert Harrington Vista, CA Hi Robert, So happy our site was helpful. We just love it when people actually use it for research. You would be surprised at the number of questions that come in that just required a person to scroll down the homepage and not even use the site search engine. Your photo is quite beautiful and a much welcome addition to our archives. We have always been impressed with these beetles and their noisy. lazy flying in the hot summer days in southern California. Have a great day.
Letter 14 – Green Fruit BeetleGlorious Beetle? I just opened the top of the compost bin, and two very large (1 inch length) metallic green beetles with dark stripes flew out. They had dark wings, and maybe a 1-1/2 to 2 inch wingspan. The compost bin had been filled with large leaves from tropical plants (bird of paradise) a few weeks ago. In trying to find out what the beetle might be, your photo of the Glorious Beetle came up as the closest specimen visually. The ones I saw (head on) were possibly a bit more triangular or tapered at the head (wider body, narrower head), rather than being oval like the one shown in the photo. They seemed to have more exposed mandibles. Are Glorious Beetles found in California and the SF Bay Area (San Jose, Sunnyvale), and would they be likely to turn up in a suburban compost bin? Any other thoughts on what they might be? Here’s the beetle I mentioned. It’s very noisy when it flies. In the photos, a portion of the wings (black) are protruding near the rear of the body. Any idea what it is? Phil Alden Hi Phil, This is a Green Fruit Beetle or Fig Eater, Cotinus mutabilis. The eggs are often laid in compost piles and adults eat ripe fruit.
Letter 15 – Orange Spotted Fruit Chafer from South AfricaBeetle Identify Location: Kwazulu Natal, South Africa December 9, 2010 7:33 am Hi I found this beetle in my house yesterday and am very curious as to what type of beetle it is. Signature: curious Jax Dear curious Jax, It did not take us too long to identify your beautiful beetle as an Orange Spotted Fruit Chafer, Mecynorrhina passerinii, which we found on the Biodiversity Explorer website on the Web of Life in South Africa. Our initial web searching did not turn up any additional information.
Letter 16 – Orange Spotted Fruit Chafer from South AfricaSubject: Beautiful Beatle from South Africa Location: White River, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa January 11, 2017 7:34 am Hi there! I came accross a beautiful bug in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa in the Lowveld. It is quite large and has a velvety feel over the wings with three orange and three white spots on each wing. It also has a snout that protrudes from its face. I found it close to the Lichi tree at my office in December which was bearing fruit. Do you maybe from the photograph attached know what type of beetle this is? Signature: Regards, Pava Dear Pava, We confirmed the identification of this Orange Spotted Fruit Chafer, Mecynorrhina passerinii, thanks to this image posted to iSpot. According to iNaturalist: “These beetles feed on sap of the Bridelia micrantha” and “This species can be found in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.” The “horn” on your individual indicates it is a male. We have an image of a female Orange Spotted Fruit Chafer in our archives.
Letter 17 – Orange Spotted Fruit Chafer from ZimbabweSubject: Yellow & black beetle Location: Zimbabwe November 21, 2014 5:48 am hiya!!! Here’s hoping you can identify this bug. Seen in the eastern area (mutare) of Zimbabwe in late November (summer/rainy season). Looking forward to hearing from you!!!! Signature: Ange Dear Ange, This beautiful Scarab is an Orange Spotted Fruit Chafer, Mecynorrhina passerinii, and it is pictured on Biodiversity Explorer as well as on Meloidae.com. Finally, iSpot is a wonderful place to look up South African insects. The horns indicate your individual is a male.
Letter 18 – Orange Spotted Fruit Chafer from ZimbabweSubject: What is this bug? Location: Zimbabwe, Africa December 8, 2016 3:29 am Dear Bugman, Please can you tell me what this bug is? Signature: Bugman This spectacular Scarab Beetle is an Orange Spotted Fruit Chafer, Mecynorrhina passerinii.
Letter 19 – Mango Flower Beetles from AustraliaSubject: What’s in the eggplant patch? Geographic location of the bug: Brisbane, Australia (inner city) Date: 02/15/2019 Time: 01:41 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman: Hi Bugman, These bugs have been in my eggplant patch for some time now. I am still getting eggplants so they don’t seem too harmful, but no one knows what they are! They can fly, but they seem to prefer walking. I once counted 30 in the patch. Location: Brisbane, Australia. Time: Summer. Maybe relevant this is in a fifth floor balcony garden. There are plenty of bugs in the garden overall, but these ones seem to have a monopoly on the eggplant. How you want your letter signed: The Curious Eggplant Grower Dear Curious Eggplant Grower, You had us with your subject line: What’s in the eggplant patch? These are Scarab Beetles and we are inclined to speculate they are in the Fruit and Flower Chafer subfamily Cetoniinae. We are continuing research; we just wanted you to know where to begin your own research. There seems to be a considerable amount of variation in color and markings on the Mango Flower Beetle, Protaetia fusca, pictured on the Brisbane Insect site, but though none exactly matches the warm golden-bronze color of the individuals you submitted, we nonetheless believe that species is correct. Based on the images and the statement “Elytra of male with apical spines, female lacking spines” posted on the Hawaiian Scarab ID site, the individual on the right in your image, with the spines on the posterior ends of the elytra or wing covers, is a male. The site also states: “In Australia, both adults and larvae are found throughout the year. Females deposit as many as 147 eggs in humus during their 6–7 month adult lifespans. Larvae feed on organic materials within the soil rather than live plant roots and reached maturity in roughly 50 days. Natural enemies include wasps (Scolia spp.) that attack larvae, a variety of birds, and Aspergillus fIavus (a fungus that sometimes infects adults).” We have been getting numerous comments lately from Australia regarding the Blue Flower Wasp, an Australian Scoliid Wasp, indicating they have plentiful prey, the larvae of Scarab Beetles.
Thanks so much! I think you are on the money!
Although, I am a little fascinated they are just sticking to the eggplants, and ignoring the other delights, such as the mango tree!