Crawly-Backs in the Compost Pile

Gnarly, Big Grubs
Location: Southern California
April 1, 2011 9:20 pm
We were digging out our compost heap today and found a bucket full of these suckers. Chickens got a few of them, but we figured we shouldn’t let them at it in case they’d be bad for ’em. We live in Orange County, and the compost has been sitting about two years now. Any idea what these suckers are? Are they poisonous? Do they morph out to something beneficial, or should I just let the chickens have ’em? Any help would be greatly appreciated
Signature: Andrew U.


Hi Andrew,
You have Crawly-Backs in your compost pile.  Crawly-Backs get that common name from their habit of propelling themselves through soil on their backs.  Crawly-Backs are the larvae of the Green Fruit Beetle, commonly called the Figeater.  Such a plentiful supply of Crawly-Backs is a sign that you have a healthy ecosystem in your compost pile and the organic materials are being broken down into usable nutrients for plants.  The Crawly-Backs are beneficial in your compost pile and you can see this posting from our archives.  When the adult Figeaters appear in August, they may eat your peaches or figs or other fruit, and if they are plentiful, they may cause some damage, but they are beautiful metallic green beetles of considerable size, and we would never think of them as a pest in our home garden.  Quite the contrary, we love first hearing them buzzing and then enjoy seeing them as the fly about in a lumbering manner.  They really are beautiful beetles and you can see images of adults in our archives.  We cannot imagine that eating Crawly-Backs will harm your chickens, however, we are a bit reluctant to give chicken advice.  We had a run of back luck last year with our own chickens, the Fuzzy Bottom Gals, though we are going to try raising chickens again this year after making sure we buy vaccinated stock.


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