Subject:  Holiday Cotinis!
Geographic location of the bug:  CA
Date: 12/09/2017
Time: 03:57 PM EDT
Hello bugman,
I understand that you have stated that comments should be submitted via the Comment Form. However,  since it does not have any way to attach images, I will be using this one. I apologize in advance if necessary.
The closely-related green fruit scarabs Cotinis mutabilis and C. nitida (they are NOT June beetles, despite the name “green June beetle”) often inspire great hatred and fear in the ignorant, due to their enormous size and “pest” status. However, many of the accusations are actually quite irrational. For the sake of brevity, I will only say that a few “cute” birds and squirrels are probably much more efficient fruit-eaters than a gardenful of Cotinis. They can probably be stopped easily with plastic bags tied around fruit, anyways.
The attached files are of my captive Cotinis mutabilis scarab. I found it in the swimming pool on the last day of July, and since its wings were damaged and useless it probably could not survive outdoors. Even though wild specimens always vanish by the end of September, this one refuses to kick the bucket. Cushy captive conditions have likely prolonged its life, but it is becoming slightly senile.
Like other members of its species, it is naturally quite tame and will allow itself to be hand-fed without any training. Unfortunately, it is not a very interesting “pet”.  Like other members of its species, it will also enter an hours-long “food coma” when feeding on fruit. This can often last half a day, but when it is not busy feeding it is either trying to escape/fly (bugsincyberspace has informed me that this is not a sign of improper husbandry) or sleeping. This alone wouldn’t be too bad, but every few days its waste products stink up the jar and I have to perform maintenance.
However, a number of amusing incidents have occurred.
– Back when I had two rescued C. mutabilis males, they would take turns trying to inseminate each other. According to research articles online, this is actually a very common behavior in many insect species. Presumably, it is better to waste sperm than miss an opportunity! ( I know they were not females, since females do not actively seek out males.)
-It will also attempt to mate with non-beetles. If I handle it for too long, it will attempt to mate with my finger! Picture 2 shows the beetle trying to mate with its food dish. This is not an act of defecation, which looks very different. Perhaps the hard metallicity of the dish felt like another beetle.
However, I will warn readers that C. mutabilis and its close relative C. nitida are probably not well-suited to captivity. My captive specimen repeatedly attempts to fly despite its ruined wings, and wild individuals fly great distances and perform acrobatic feats in the air. Although I am not certain, keeping a non-flightless individual in captivity would likely cause it unnecessary distress. Even free-ranging one in the house does not work, as they always fly to a window and bang their heads against it constantly.
How you want your letter signed:  AlexW, extreme entomophile


Dear AlexW, extreme entomophile,
Thanks for your lengthy account of your captive Figeaters.

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BugMan aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. 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.

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