Large Green Irridescent Beetle-looking bug
Location: San Fernando Valley CA
August 14, 2011 8:37 am
Hi ~ I recently moved to southern California (Winnetka CA), and these bugs are flying all over the place for the last few months (summer). I was terrified at first but someone told me they aren’t harmful. They are actually quite beautiful and they fly really slowly at times and you can catch them! I found this one dead on my driveway. What is it?
Signature: Best regards, Annette


Hi Annette,
Though it looks and sounds like a large bee while flying, you are correct that the Green Fruit Beetle,
Cotinis mutabilis, is perfectly harmless, though they will eat your backyard fruit.  If you have large numbers of them, you must have a nearby food source for either the adults of the larvae.  Adults feed on peaches, figs and other summer fruits, and we love the common name Figeater.  Larvae are found in compost piles and they are called Crawlybacks


Daniel ~ Thank you so much!!
My neighbor has a LOT of fruit trees in his back yard. And he just brought over a pile of FIGS the other day J That explains it.
So glad I finally know what they are called.
Thanks again and have a wonderful week!

18 thoughts on “Figeater”

  1. I recently moved to Orange County, CA from the midwest and your pictures and description of this beetle was perfect! A rather large one flew into my garage today, and I thought it was the largest bee alive by the way it was flying, until the sun caught it and I saw the green/iridescent coloring. My son was able to direct it out of the garage with a broom easily, as it awkwardly flew around. A small humming bird had been by the garage door as this beetle entered and their wing spans were almost equal at a glance. This was the largest scarab shaped beetle I have ever seen, but not knowing what exactly it was there was no way I was batting it down for a measurement!

    Thank you for a species name and more specific information so I know more about this native “bug” than I did before! =)


    • I too moved to CA from the Midwest, happy to leave the mosquitoes until this beetle freaked me out! Thankful for the explanation and hopeful that I now can calm down when I see, or rather hear them. 🙂

  2. Glad to know what these flying fortresses are but don’t understand why my backyard and lanai are full of them! I live in an area of Cape Coral, FL that has no fruit trees whatsoever and haven’t seen these guys in the 4 years I’ve been here. Are they a cyclical species, like some others that only come around every few years or so? Just curious. Thanx for the great pix and description.

  3. Is it possible to find these beetles in Kentucky? Because I am attending Breyerfest in Lexington and believe I’ve seen some by the pool.

  4. Dear Bug Man folks,

    We’ve noticed this beautiful metallic green insect around our garden a few times, so brought in
    a belly-up one and found your description, photos etc. Perfect! I got a great specimen of a fig eatin’ Cotinis mutabilis. After I looked it up I was going to do some research on insects, but you had that all down pat too! YOU PEOPLE ARE THE BEST!!! Now I know they like (summer) fruits, and we have around 17 fruit n’ nut trees including figs. Their larvae are apparently laid in compost or rabbit dung etc. Well with 2 more-or-less working compost piles, I guess we’ll always have our share of ’em. Interesting to read all the emails you posted too. Especially the one about how that mommy bug buried deep in someone’s rabbit dung to lay some eggs probably! How on earth do they get themselves to actually look METALLIC?!?

    I want to glue the insect’s back to a piece of glass, and frame it over a mirror as it’s posterior / underside is such a pretty color. Framed up in (metallic light green) in a deep enough frame would be kind of neat, with a kelley green mat, huh?

    Not bugged by the bug anymore,

  5. I was told it was a Japanese Beetle decades ago. I’m glad to finally see what it REALLY is and what a Japanese Beetle is! Thanks so much!

    A few days ago some jerk said it was a Blue Tail Fly. It seems there’s not much info out there on Blue Tail Flies, and most images have photos of blue dragonflies. Wrong! All I could find on Blue Tail Flies was that they are a Horse Fly, but I can’t find any images. Anyone out there have a good photo of a Blue Tail Fly?

  6. They are actually swarming my fig tree. I won’t have any fruit left Glad to know they are harmless as I was afraid due to the number of them

    Looks like s Hitchcock movie here in Cottonwood AZ!

  7. I’ve been seeing so many of these here in Southern California but I don’t recall ever seeing them when I lived here before, which was 1967-1994. Are they a recent transplant to the Los Angeles area? Thank you!

    • Figeaters are not new to Los Angeles. They are active during the heat of summer, especially July and August, and perhaps there are more fruit trees in your new location.

  8. It’s a different climate and a few large hilly separations between West Los Angeles and Pasadena, so I guess that’s the reason.
    Thanks for your reply.

  9. I hate bugs and these freak me out. They fly right in my face, one rode on my mother on her shirt into a restaurant and she had no idea until someone told her. Do they bite or sting? Thanks.

  10. We have a big problem in our community garden here in Santa Fe Springs CA but I have come up with away to trap them without chemicals you just need a 2 liter bottle and cut the top off around where the paper on the out side ends and put a fruit in it like a peach the more ripe the better drop it in the bottom and flip the top you cut off so the part you poured is now facing down like a funnel and i masking tape the side to hold it in place. The Green Fig Beatles will be attracted to it and fall in and can get out i’v caught and killed over 16,000 in the last 2 years here. I start putting the bottle out at the first sing of them usually in late June early July


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