Do Grapevine Beetles Bite? Debunking Myths and Exploring Facts

Grapevine beetles are part of the scarab family, which includes over 30,000 species worldwide, such as June Bugs, Dung Beetles, and Japanese Beetles. These beetles can be found on grapevines, but their impact on the plants varies.

While grapevine beetles do feed on grapevine leaves, their primary focus is not on biting humans or animals. However, it is important to remember that different species within the scarab family may have different behaviors and interactions with humans.

In general, grapevine beetles can cause damage to grapevines by feeding on the plant’s primary buds, preventing the development of shoots. This ultimately reduces the yield of grapes and can be a concern for grape growers. But for the average person, grapevine beetles pose little to no risk in terms of biting or physical harm.

Grapevine Beetle Identification and Appearance

Color and Physical Features

  • Grapevine Beetles (GB) usually have an oval and chunky shape.
  • Common colors range from pale broom-straw yellow to rich saffron.
  • Sturdy front legs widened and toothed for digging.

Grapevine Beetles are nocturnal creatures that are typically oval and chunky. Their color may vary from a pale broom-straw yellow to a rich saffron hue. GBs have distinctive, sturdy front legs that are widened and toothed, specialized for digging purposes. For more information on their color and physical features, visit this page.

Antennae and Lamellae

  • Club-shaped antennae with plates at the ends.
  • Capable of spreading into a fan-like form.

An interesting feature of the Grapevine Beetle is its antennae. They are club-shaped with plates at the ends, which are called lamellae. The antennae can spread out and adopt a fan-like form. To learn more about antennae and lamellae, refer to this source.

Spot Pattern on Elytra

  • Spot on each side of the thorax.
  • Three spots on each side of the elytra.

Grapevine Beetles have distinct markings on their bodies. They have a spot on each side of their thorax and three spots on the side of each elytron or wing cover. For more details and examples of the spot pattern on elytra, consult this website.

Life Cycle and Habitat

Eggs and Larval Stage

Grapevine beetles lay their eggs in soil near roots of plants. The eggs hatch into larvae that feed on rotting wood, like:

  • Fallen branches
  • Dead stumps
  • Logs

Larvae undergo multiple molting stages, growing larger each time.

Pupal Stage and Adult Grapevine Beetles

After the final larval stage, larvae pupate in soil. This stage lasts for about 7-10 days before the adult beetle emerges. Adult grapevine beetles are members of the Scarabaeidae family, which includes over 30,000 species worldwide.

Adult Grapevine Beetle Features:

  • Oval-shaped
  • Shiny brown or green
  • Six legs
  • Antenna with club-like tips

Natural Habitats and Host Plants

Grapevine beetles inhabit areas with:

  • Decaying wood
  • Soil suitable for egg laying and pupation
  • Host plants, including grapevines and other fruit trees

Comparison Table: Life Stages of Grapevine Beetle

Life Stage Habitat Duration Feeding Habits
Egg Soil near plant roots Days to weeks
Larva In rotting wood Multiple months Feed on wood and organic matter
Pupa In soil 7-10 days
Adult On host plants, fruit trees Weeks to months Eat leaves and fruit

Overall, grapevine beetles have a life cycle deeply connected to their natural habitat, in and around rotting wood and fruit-bearing plants. Understanding this cycle helps to minimize their impact on garden environments.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Grapevine Beetle

 

Subject: Grapevine Beetle
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
July 25, 2016 2:44 pm
Unusual find for our location, and we have no grapevines nearby. Beautiful beetle.
Signature: Derek

Grapevine Beetle
Grapevine Beetle

Dear Derek,
You are correct that this is a Grapevine Beetle, and according to BugGuide:  “Adults feed on grape (Vitis) foliage and fruit, both wild and cultivated species. Not a serious pest. Larvae host on dead
Acer, Celtis, Juglans, Malus, Platanus, Quercus, Ulmus spp.”  Though we don’t want to take the time to research all genera of larval hosts, they include maple, walnut, oak and elm and we are relatively certain some of those trees are found nearby.  Also, the adult plant host list might be incomplete.  Folks who want to start butterfly gardens quickly learn that if they do not have caterpillar host plants to produce the butterflies, they will not have many visitors to the flowers they plant.

Grapevine Beetle (image lightened)
Grapevine Beetle (image lightened)

Letter 2 – Grapevine Beetle

 

Subject: Unidentified Flying Object?
Location: Cumberland, MD (Western Maryland Mountains)
July 4, 2013 9:03 am
Hi! I found this quite interesting looking ”fellow” on my back porch resting on a blind, near a bug light. I was intrigued by the four black ”dots” on its hard shell. He only popped out his head for a few brief seconds, so I am not able to describe it very well. He was approximately 3/4” long. The coloring of his ”shell” appears slightly darker in the picture. I live in the mountains of Western Maryland and have seen my fair share of insects and critters, but no one seems so have seen one of these types of beetles before. I did not want to injure him, so I did not capture him and have not seen him again; but I am curious if you would be able to identify him for me.
Thanks so much and I love your website!!!
Signature: LoverofAllCreaturesGreatandSmall

Grapevine Beetle
Grapevine Beetle

Dear Lover of All Creatures Great and Small,
Your beetle is a Grapevine Beetle,
Pelidnota punctata, and individuals often vary greatly in coloration, from pale cream to dark orange.  More northern reports tend to be darker in coloration, in our opinion.  If you count the spots more carefully, you should see six on the elytra and two more on the thorax.

Letter 3 – Grapevine Beetle

 

Subject: Large slow fella
Location: New Hope, PA
July 6, 2013 6:02 am
Hello
I saw a large beetle fly around the house the other day, sounded like a transport helicopter.. found this guy in our sink today i think it was him/her.
Could you tell me what it is? it is about 30mm long, 17-20mm wide and 6-10mm high..
Thanks a bunch
Henrik
Signature: large slow fella

Grapevine Beetle
Grapevine Beetle

Hi Henrik,
You encountered a Grapevine Beetle.

Thank you so much for that info…
Have a good weekend
Henrik

Letter 4 – Grapevine Beetle

 

Subject: Related to the Goldsmith beetle?
Location: Richfield MN
July 22, 2013 7:19 pm
Found this guy in Richfield, MN on 7/20. It seems to be too orange and have darker spots on the carapace to be a Goldsmith Beetle. Thank you for your time!
Signature: Amber W

Grapevine Beetle
Grapevine Beetle

Hi Amber,
You are very observant.  This is a Grapevine Beetle,
Pelidnota punctata, and like the Goldsmith Beetle, both are in the tribe Rutelini.

Letter 5 – Grapevine Beetle

 

Subject: beetle help
Location: northwest michigan
September 18, 2013 6:09 pm
which kind of beetle is this?
Signature: elaina

Grapevine Beetle
Grapevine Beetle

Hi Elaina,
This pretty Scarab Beetle is a Grapevine Beetle.

Letter 6 – Grapevine Beetle

 

Subject: larger yellow breetle
Location: Windsor, ontario, canada
June 30, 2014 9:29 pm
its a large beeile like looking bug. approximately 1 inch in diameter
Signature: By Mike Provost

Grapevine Beetle
Grapevine Beetle

Hi Mike,
This is a Grapevine Beetle,
Pelidnota punctata.    The color ranges from creamy yellow to rusty orange, but the spots are nearly always present.  According to BugGuide:  “Eggs are laid on stumps and rotting logs. Larvae feed on decaying roots and stumps of trees, pupate in adjacent soil. Adults emerge May-September and come to lights” and “Adults feed on grape (Vitis) foliage and fruit.”

Letter 7 – Grapevine Beetle

 

Subject: Cool Grapevine Beetle
Location: south central Pennsylvania
July 11, 2014 7:56 pm
I was out watering the plants on my balcony when I came across this guy. He was lazily climbing the fence and gladly posed for pictures. 🙂 I used your site to determine that he (I named him “Loaf”) is a grapevine beetle. Just wanted to pass along a photo. We live at the edge of a wildlife preserve in south central Pennsylvania and have all sorts of interesting critters show up in the summer so I spend a lot of time on your site. You guys rock! Thanks for making me a little bit smarter!
Signature: Julie

Grapevine Beetle
Grapevine Beetle

Hi Julie,
We are happy to hear that you were able to navigate our site to identify your Grapevine Beetle.  It really is an impressive species.  There is probably wild grape in your wildlife preserve that provides a source of food for a population of Grapevine Beetles.

Letter 8 – Grapevine Beetle

 

Subject: Yellow beetle 7 small spots
Location: Pennsylvania
August 3, 2015 6:59 pm
This beetle was on the porch screen today. Roughly about the length of a quarter but skinnier. Gloss almost like it was painted with clear nail polish. We do have a vegetable garden outside. Black legs. Small black spots as shown on the picture. Aug 2015. Pennsylvania.
What type of bug? Good or bad? He is rather pretty.
Signature: Chris

Grapevine Beetle
Grapevine Beetle

Hi Chris,
This distinctive beetle is a Grapevine Beetle.

Letter 9 – Grapevine Beetle

 

Subject: What kind of bug is this
Location: Muskegon heights Michigan
July 17, 2016 5:59 am
I found this bug in my driveway… i thought maybe a june bug but it looks a little different. .
Signature: Natalie Jager

Grapevine Beetle
Grapevine Beetle

Dear Natalie,
The reason you thought this Grapevine Beetle resembled a June Bug is that both are in the Scarab Beetle family Scarabaeidae.  The Grapevine Beetle was our featured Bug of the Month last month.

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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts

6 thoughts on “Do Grapevine Beetles Bite? Debunking Myths and Exploring Facts”

  1. this grapevine beetle is very nocturnal here in Manchester Ct Thought someone was in the bushes went I went to feed the stray cats after second shift There he/she was. With all the rain we have had bushes,vines and Sunflowers are going great along with the garden. I would live in the jungle out there too.

    Reply
  2. Very nice solid scarab ! It has been noted in north America ,that many species are now moving north ( slowly ) as the massive warming tread is increasing world wide . We all will have to monitor these range extensions , as they represent important and drastic environmental changes for everything plant and animal on our continent . Cheers ! Gene St. Denis Sierra Nevada Research

    Reply
    • Hi Gene,
      We suspect you mean “without spots” when you wrote “solid scarab” so we lightened the image and reposted as the spots were hidden in the shadows. WTB? has been reporting Grapevine Beetles from Canada as far back as 2006. Citizen Science programs that report wildlife sightings have increased in popularity lately, and they are a great documentation of range expansion. WTB? has much in common with Citizen Science programs, but alas, our records are not very well organized. We remember the thrill we felt when we first reported neotropical Green Orchid Bees in Florida back in 2004.

      Reply
  3. Daniel, I meant that physically the specimen was solid / healthy and not crushed ( they are Beautiful Scarabs ! ) . Folks up north are seeing more and more insects, birds, and mammals that have not been in their area before , as they were south of them ( the plants will follow) . The dreaded words….. Global Warming …… is starting to have hard evidence , whether we want it or not . Cheers! Geno

    Reply
    • Thanks for the clarification Gene. Habitats are changing everywhere for so many reasons, though we humans seem connected to almost all of it.

      Reply
  4. I think I have a grapevine beetle but I am not sure. I have a picture of th9e little guy or shall I say big guy. Can you help me identify this little guy?

    Reply

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