Figeater Beetle: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell

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The Figeater Beetle, scientifically known as Cotinis mutabilis, is a fascinating insect with a fondness for figs. This beetle emerges from the ground and is commonly found during warmer months in search of ripe fruit. The diet of the fig eater includes figs, grapes, tomatoes, peaches, and plums which means that they are attracted to various over-ripe fruits.

Figeater Beetles are often seen flying around gardens in search of their next meal. It is important for gardeners and fruit enthusiasts to be aware of the presence of these beetles, as they can potentially damage fruit crops. Its large, green, and shiny appearance makes it easily identifiable among other insects, helping in its quick spotting by those vigilant of their gardens.

In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about the Figeater Beetle, from its life cycle to its behavior and impact on agriculture. You’ll also find information on how to manage these beetles in your garden to protect your fruit trees and enjoy a fruitful harvest. Stay tuned for a thorough understanding of this unique creature!

Figeater Beetle Overview

Classification and Appearance

The Figeater Beetle, scientifically known as Cotinis mutabilis, is a member of the family Scarabaeidae and subfamily Cetoniinae. Also known as the Green Fig Beetle or Green Fruit Beetle, this particular species of Scarab Beetle is known for its iridescent green color which can sometimes have hints of brown in its wing covers.

  • Iridescent green color
  • Part of the Scarabaeidae family
  • Belongs to the Cetoniinae subfamily

Range and Habitat

Figeater Beetles are primarily found in the southwestern United States, with some overlap in the range of other beetles like the June Beetle, which is more common in the eastern US. These beetles typically emerge from the ground and are drawn to over-ripe fruit such as figs, grapes, tomatoes, peaches, and plums.

Range

  • Southwestern United States
  • Overlaps with June Beetle range

Habitat

  • Attracted to over-ripe fruits
  • Examples of fruits: figs, grapes, tomatoes, peaches, plums

Comparison Table:

Feature Figeater Beetle June Beetle
Range Southwestern US Eastern US
Habitat Over-ripe fruits Decaying vegetation
Color Iridescent green Brown or black
Family and Subfamily Scarabaeidae; Cetoniinae Scarabaeidae; Melolonthinae

Life Cycle and Behavior

From Eggs to Larvae

Figeater beetles begin their life cycle as eggs, often laid near a food source. The eggs hatch into larvae called crawly backs due to their distinctive movement. Some key characteristics of Figeater beetle larvae include:

  • Creamy white color
  • Composed of 4 body stages (instars)

These larvae feed on decaying plant material, helping with organic matter breakdown.

Pupation

At the end of the larval stage, Figeater beetles prepare for pupation. During this time, they create a protective cell within the soil. They usually pupate for 7 to 10 days, before emerging as adults.

Adulthood

Adult Figeater beetles typically exhibit a metallic green or blue color and large legs. At this stage, they change their feeding habits to focus on ripe fruits like figs. Pros and cons of adult Figeater beetles are listed below:

Pros:

  • Help with pollination
  • Aid in organic matter decomposition

Cons:

  • Can damage ripe fruits
  • Might be considered a nuisance in gardens

As the Figeater beetle life cycle continues, they contribute to the ecosystem in various ways, both beneficial and destructive.

Diet and Interaction with Plants

Common Food Sources

Figeater beetles, also known as green June beetles, are attracted to a variety of sweet food sources. Some of the favored food sources include:

  • Figs: These beetles are particularly drawn to ripe figs, which provide them with essential nutrients.
  • Fruit trees: Figeater beetles may feed on several fruit trees, consuming fruits like peaches, plums, and grapes.
  • Berries: These insects are also known to consume various berries, which serve as a staple in their diet.
  • Nectar: Flower chafers like the figeater beetle may also feed on the nectar from desert trees.

Figeater beetles are also known to elope, searching for food like decomposing organic matter found in compost and mulch.

Impact on Gardens and Orchards

Gardens

Figeater beetles can pose a threat to gardens, consuming petals and flowers from various plants. When the insects feed on tomatoes, for instance, they may leave significant damage.

Pros of figeater beetles in gardens:

  • Help in breaking down decomposing organic matter

Cons of figeater beetles in gardens:

  • Feed on flower petals, potentially harming plants
  • May damage crops like tomatoes

Orchards

Figeater beetles can have a significant impact on fruit trees in orchards due to their affinity for sweet food. They may consume sap from various fruit trees, as well as the fruits themselves. This behavior can lead to reduced yields and damage to fruit.

Pros of figeater beetles in orchards:

  • May contribute to the decomposition of organic matter in the soil

Cons of figeater beetles in orchards:

  • Potential damage to fruit trees, causing reduced yields
  • Consumption of sap may weaken the tree

These insects can be controlled using environmentally-friendly pesticides, although some may resort to manual removal.

Comparison table:

Aspect Gardens Orchards
Impact Damage to flower petals and crops like tomatoes Damage to fruit trees and reduced yields
Control Environmentally-friendly pesticides or manual removal Environmentally-friendly pesticides or manual removal

Identification and Similar Species

Distinctive Features

The Figeater Beetle, also known as the green fruit beetle, is a member of the scarab family. Here are its distinctive features:

  • Adult beetles are quite large, measuring between 3/4 to 1-1/3 inches long.
  • Their coloration is mainly metallic green with brown or tan along the outside margins of their wing covers (elytra).
  • They have six legs and a semi-glossy green appearance.

Figeater Beetle vs. Japanese Beetle

The Figeater Beetle (Cotinis nitida) is often mistaken for the Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica). Here are some comparisons to help differentiate between the two:

  • Size: Figeater beetles are larger than Japanese beetles.
  • Color: While both have metallic green coloration, the Japanese beetle has copper-brown wing covers, compared to the brown or tan margins on Figeater beetle’s elytra.
Feature Figeater Beetle Japanese Beetle
Size 3/4 to 1-1/3 inches Smaller
Color Metallic green with brown/tan margins Metallic green with copper-brown wing covers

Figeater Beetle vs. Green June Beetle

Another species that can be confused with Figeater Beetle is the Green June Beetle (Cotinis mutabilis). However, there are some differences between them:

  • Geographic range: The Figeater beetle is more common in the southeastern United States, while the Green June beetle is found in the western parts of the country.
  • Physical appearance: The Green June beetle has a more glossy appearance, while the Figeater beetle is semi-glossy.
  • Coloration: Although both have metallic green coloration, the Green June beetle lacks the brown or tan margins on its elytra.

In summary, the Figeater Beetle is a metallic green scarab beetle with distinctive brown or tan margins on its wing covers. It’s essential to differentiate them from similar species like the Japanese Beetle and Green June Beetle, which have differences in size, color, and geographic distribution.

Preventing and Managing Infestations

Natural Predators and Control Methods

Figeater beetles are known for their damage to home gardens and overripe fruits, as well as their loud buzzing noise when flying. They tend to feed on nectar, fruit, and organic matter in the soil. Birds are known to be natural predators of these beetles. One effective way to control their population in your garden is to encourage bird presence.

Chickens are a perfect example of a natural predator that can help manage figeater beetles populations. They can feed on both the adult beetles and the beetle larvae in the soil. When cultivating your garden:

  • Add a bird feeder or birdbath
  • Provide habitats or shelters for birds

Another effective method to control figeater beetles is by exposure of larvae to nematodes, which are beneficial microorganisms that prey upon beetle larvae present in the soil.

Monitoring and Chemical Control

In managing figeater beetle infestations, monitoring is crucial, especially during the ripe fruit season. Inspect your garden regularly to spot any overripe fruits, which are highly attractive to these beetles:

  • Remove and dispose of any overripe fruits immediately
  • Employ tight-fitting screens around fruits to prevent beetles from reaching them

Chemical control should be a last resort to manage any persistent infestations. Some chemical control products can have adverse effects on the environment and non-target organisms. It is essential to consult a professional before using any chemical control methods.

Maintaining a healthy, balanced garden ecosystem and practicing good garden hygiene such as proper mulching and composting will also help prevent figeater beetles from becoming a persistent issue during the winter season when they are less active.

Bug Control Recommendation Tool

What type of pest are you dealing with?

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Do you require child/pet/garden safe treatments (organic)?

Are you willing to monitor and maintain the treatment yourself?


Figeater Beetles and Human Interaction

Harmlessness to Humans

  • Figeater beetles are harmless to humans
  • They do not bite, sting, or carry diseases

Figeater beetles are a common sight in gardens during the summer months, particularly in Mexico and California. Their buzzing sound can sometimes be mistaken for a bee, but rest assured, these beetles are harmless to humans. They neither bite nor sting and do not carry any diseases.

Impact on Fruit Crops

  • Can cause damage to ripening fruits
  • More prevalent in fig crops and orchards

Figeater beetles, also known as green fruit beetles, can have a negative impact on fruit crops. The adult beetles feed on ripe and overripe fruits, especially figs, leading to damage and reduced yields in orchards. They are highly attracted to the odors of manure and fermenting fruits, which can be found in agricultural areas. It’s worth noting that their life cycle is heavily influenced by irrigation practices, making it crucial to manage water resources properly during the growing season.

Comparison between Figeater Beetles and June Beetles

Feature Figeater Beetle June Beetle
Size Slightly larger Slightly smaller
Habitat Southwestern US, Mexico Eastern US
Impact on Fruit Crops Ripening fruits Larvae feed on plant roots
Identification Green color, scarab-like Similar appearance
Attraction to Manure Yes No

In conclusion, figeater beetles are harmless to humans but can cause damage to fruit crops during the summer months. Proper identification, management of irrigation practices, and an understanding of their life cycle can help minimize their impact on gardens and orchards.

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 – Figeater

 

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

Figeater

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

Figeater

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!
Annette

Letter 2 – Figeater

 

Irridescent Green & Gold trim bug
August 14, 2009
This bug came FLYING at me while on my patio on a sunny Los Angeles afternoon a couple of weeks ago. After chasing me for a bit on my patio (maybe it wanted a sip of my chardonnay?), it attached itself to my screen door, and just hung out (I went inside). Seemed to be missing it’s right leg.
Crystal
Los Angeles, California

Figeater
Figeater

Hi Crystal,
This is a Green Fruit Beetle, Cotinis mutabilis, also called a Figeater due to its fondness for eating figs.  It is also fond of peaches.  The Figeater is a common Los Angeles scarab beetle that is generally seen from late July through September.

Letter 3 – Figeater

 

Mettalic Green Beetle
September 3, 2009
I haven’t seen one of these in the Bay Area in 3 years. I’m wondering if it is local to California, it measured about 1in long. I was able to easily catch it by hand (very clumsy bug).
Michael Blair
San Jose, CA

Green Fruit Beetle
Green Fruit Beetle

Dear Michael,
The Green Fruit Beetle or Figeater, Cotinus mutabilis, according to Charles Hogue in his book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, was:  “Originally native to Arizona and New Mexico, it gradually spread westward and became noticeable in the Los Angeles area after the 1960s.”  Perhaps its range is spreading northward as well, possibly due to global warming, or perhaps by accidental introduction.  Adults generally fly in Los Angeles during the hot final days of summer in August and September.

Letter 4 – Figeater

 

Subject: Bug Identification.
Location: Santa Monica, CA
January 26, 2014 12:54 pm
Hi Bugman, I love your site. Thank you so much, i love bugs too. I am a dog walker here in Santa Monica CA and I get a chance to see lots of interesting things on my walks. I saw this little guy and just before my dog pack walked on him I picked him up and put him on a vine growing on a wall. He or she is quite beautiful really iridescent green. What kind of beetle is this?
Signature: Lauri Crosssman

Figeater
Figeater

Hi Lauri,
We are surprised you spotted this Figeater in January.  Figeaters, which are large, green Scarab Beetles, generally fly from August to October in Southern California.

Hi thx for the ident, i didn’t actually just find him it was last year around october I think, also he was under a very large ficus tree which I believe is a variety of fig.
Thanks again,
Lauri

Letter 5 – Figeater

 

Subject: metallic green legs/feelers
Location: San Diego
July 31, 2014 2:14 pm
I’ve seen this bug fly before…this little dude seems to be injured i think bcuz he’s not flying.
Signature: Suzzanne

Figeater
Figeater

Dear Suzzanne,
This beautiful Scarab Beetle is commonly called a Figeater and August is the best time to view them

Letter 6 – Figeater

 

Subject: Beetle?
Location: Beach, Imperial Beach, CA, USA
September 16, 2015 5:51 pm
I’d like to know what bug this is please. We rescued it from a blonde lady’s hair at the beach in Imperial Beach, CA.
Signature: Alex

Figeater
Figeater

Dear Alex,
This beautiful Scarab Beetle is commonly called a Figeater.

Letter 7 – Figeater

 

Subject: What kind of bug is this?
Location: Fresno California
August 12, 2016 9:39 am
My husband the zoologist/science teacher and the rest of the science department are stumped. LOL. We need to call for the big guys!
For the past month the bug keeps flying at my sister when she sits outside. She lives in Fresno, CA and it is hot now. August weather has been over 100 degrees. 106 degrees for the past week. The bug is attracted to her and seems to fly at her anytime she is outside. We both have blond hair. She smokes a vapor pipe when she is outside. It is a big bug. It is probably the size of 1/2 of a humans palm. My sister said a dashound dog. LOL
You can hear the flutter of the wings! Is it dangerous?
Signature: Bug Expert

Figeater
Figeater

This is a Scarab Beetle commonly called a Figeater.  They are harmless, though quite intimidating when they buzz noisily about.

Letter 8 – Figeater

 

Subject: Figeater beetle
Location: Henderson, NV
August 17, 2016 10:29 am
Thanks for having this guy up on your site. It helped me identify one of my own.
Found in Henderson NV on 8/16/2016. Photo attached for your pleasure.
Signature: Willie

Figeater
Figeater

Hi Willie,
Thanks for sending your Figeater image.  We have been enjoying watching them flying clumsily around the carob tree at our WTB? offices for several weeks now.  Even though we have long had a compost pile, we have never found the larval Crawlybacks.

Letter 9 – Figeater

 

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

Figeater

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

Letter 10 – Figeater

 

Subject:  Fig beetle or Green June Beetle!
Geographic location of the bug:  Fresno, CA
Date: 08/05/2018
Time: 01:05 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello,
My husband and I are at odds about this bug. He (the bug) was a pretty friendly guy who flew into several patrons hair at our local bar. Can you tell us what he is? We spotted him approximately mid-July.
How you want your letter signed:  Megan

Figeater

Hi Megan,
Common names for the same insect can vary from location to location, and that gets even more complicated because insects do not respect international borders, with or without walls, and many times the national language changes across the border.  To make things even more complicated, sometimes the same common name is used to describe more than one insect.  That is why the scientific community uses the universal binomial system to identify creatures, but even that gets complicated because sometimes more than one scientific name is used to describe the same insect, but eventually one of those names supersedes the other.  What’s That Bug? has always considered itself a pop culture insect site, so we frequently use common names in an effort to make us more friendly to the web browsing public which might find more scientific (and more reputable) sites off-putting because they are so scientific.  The genus
Cotinis is called, according to BugGuide, the Green June Beetles, so any member of the genus can be called by that common name.  A common species found from Texas east, Cotinis nitida, is commonly called a Fig-Eater or Green June Beetle, according to BugGuide, and a common western species, that is found in California, is Cotinis mutabilis, and according to BugGuide, it is commonly called the Green Fig Beetle, the Green Fruit Beetle or the Figeater Beetle.  Your species is the latter, so you may use any of the common names that specifically apply to the species, or the more general name Green June Beetle that applies to the entire genus.  That is a very long-winded explanation that distills down to the answer that both names are correct for your species, though here at What’s That Bug?, we like to use Figeater for the western species, so you both are correct.

Figeater

 

Letter 11 – Figeater

 

Subject:  Beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  San diego
Date: 10/15/2018
Time: 05:00 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
A month or two ago these beetles were flying all over the place . Now they are mostly gone but I found this little guy the other day. I’m wondering what he is? I’m guessing fig eater or green June bug but I’m don’t know which and I’d like to know. Is it possible he’s different from the ones that were all over the place a few months ago? I’m trying to draw one and I’d like to label it correctly.  Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Natalie

Figeater

Dear Natalie,
Figeater and Green June Beetle are both acceptable common names for
Cotinis nitida, according to BugGuide.  Since common names are often regional, and might differ from place to place, and since the same common name might be used for different species, your most accurate label would be to use the scientific name.

Letter 12 – Figeater Aggregation

 


I used your web site to find out the name of the bugs that recently arrived in our backyard. The Green Fruit Beetles don’t seem to mind sharing this peach . We live in Brea Ca. and this is the first time in ten years we have seen these beetles in our yard and on our peach tree. Thanks for the info .
Kind Regards
Dudley Michael

Hi Dudley,
Peach? What Peach? This photo is pretty awesome. We have started seeing the Green Fruit Beetle or Figeater recently this summer. They make their appearance in August and September and they fly noisily and lazily about. The grubs can often be found in compost piles.

Letter 13 – Figeater and Phoretic Mites

 

Subject:  Green Beetle with bushy looking legs: definitely can fly.
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern CA – Sunnyvale.
Date: 08/21/2018
Time: 09:36 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This guy was hanging out in my compost bin with friends.  My guess is that they were grubs and just emerged.  Are they Japanese Beetles?
Thx
How you want your letter signed:  Chuck

Figeater with Phoretic Mites

Dear Chuck,
Your beetle is a Figeater, a Green June Beetle that is quite common in California.  The larvae, known as Crawlybacks, are often found in compost piles.  The “bushy looking legs” you mentioned are of great interest to us.  They look like phoretic Mites that often use large beetles like Sexton Beetles as transportation from location to location.  We have an image in our archives of some eastern Green June Beetles with phoretic Mites.

Thanks Daniel,
I can grab one of the beetles for you?  I closed the lid and they are still there.  I usually turn the pile over quite often but have been away for travel: when I opened the lid, those guys were hanging out.
Thanks again.
Chuck

Thanks for the offer Chuck, but we have plenty of Figeaters in Southern California.

Letter 14 – Figeater in Captivity

 

Subject: Life span of adult fig eater beetle
December 28, 2014 11:43 am
I rescued an adult fig eater beetle last July. He has damaged wings and is unable to fly. I left him out for a couple of days so nature could take its course but on the morning the gardeners were coming I found him hanging on to a blade of grass and couldn’t let him get chopped by the mower. Since then he has lived in a terrarium with grass, leaves, dirt, sticks and is eating grapes, figs and blueberries. He has occasional visits outside, where he crawls in the grass and climbs onto sticks and tries to fly But can’t manage to do so.
I am amazed he is still alive! How long will my house guest survive?
Signature: Kate

Injured Figeater Rescued
Injured Figeater Rescued

Dear Kate,
Since you did not provide us with an image, we are illustrating your query with an image of a Figeater from our archives.  Since you have rescued this lovely Scarab from a premature death, we are tagging your letter with the Bug Humanitarian Award.  Having averted the natural predators and food shortages that limit the life span of wild beetles, you have extended the life of the Figeater you rescued.  We can’t imagine it living more than a year, so we speculate that your individual will expire by summer.

Thanks so much for the award! I am honored. I am also including a photo of the actual beetle (who is generally referred to as Bugman, although I am not sure of his/her gender). He is taking one of his walks on a hibiscus.
Please once again accept my humble thanks for the award! Glad to know that others support Bug Rescue 🙂
Kate

Hello again Kate,
Thanks so much for sending in your image of a Figeater with damaged elytra, the hard wing covers.  We have formatted the image to illustrate the posting as the primary image and the image we found in our archives is now relegated to a secondary status.

Figeater
Figeater (from our archives)

Letter 15 – Figeater Eats Pizza

 

Subject: Is this a pizza loving cicada?
Location: Phoenix, AZ
October 17, 2015 4:37 pm
At a birthday party, this little guy just jumped on the pizza. Haven’t seen these around.
Signature: Celso

Figeater Eating Pizza
Figeater Eating Pizza

Dear Celso,
This green scarab beetle is a Figeater, and adults are commonly reported eating peaches as well as figs.  We presume they may eat ripe tomatoes as well, and it is possible it was attracted to the pizza because of the sweet smell of the sauce.

Letter 16 – Figeater Frenzy

 

Subject: June Bug (figeater?) Frenzy!
Location: Tucson, AZ
July 31, 2013 3:41 pm
The Student Union at the University of Arizona (Tucson) has been taken over by these little green guys. I’m not sure why they love the building so much, we don’t have any fig trees around here.
There are at least 2 every 10 feet as you walk through the breezeways and outdoor corridors of the building — dead or alive. This one wall is covered!
(sorry for the poor quality phone photos)
Signature: Carie

Figeaters
Figeaters

Hi Carie,
You are correct that these are Figeaters or Green Fruit Beetles,
Cotinis mutabilis.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults feed on ripe fruit and sometimes sap.”  The lack of figs in the area would not necessarily prevent such a healthy population of Figeaters.  Though we expect that they do not prefer citrus, they are quite fond of peaches, plums and many other fruits that might be found nearby on your campus.  If there is some type of organic compost or recently mulched landscaping, there might have been a large population of larvae thriving that has just recently emerged as adult beetles.  Though the quality of the overview photograph is not ideal, it does nicely illustrate the large number of Figeaters present.

Figeater Population Explosion
Figeater Population Explosion

Thanks for your reply.
The week the figeaters appeared on the student union, lots of landscaping work was being done around the building, including bringing in some new sod and probably some new soil — that might have been where these guys came from!
Carie

 

Letter 17 – Figeaters eating Figs

 

Lovely Bug
October 26, 2009
These guys show up every year when the figs are ripe (July-Aug). About an inch long and maybe 5/8 thick. They usually mass on one fig and leave it in tatters.
Kenneth Magnone
90066 (West Los Angeles)

Figeaters eating Figs
Figeaters eating Figs

Hi Kenneth,
We are so excited that you have sent us a photo of Figeaters eating Figs.  Figeaters are also known as Green Fruit Beetles.

Letter 18 – Question about Figeater Defense Mechanism

 

Subject: Green June Beetle Defense Mechanism?
Location: Silver Lake (Los Angeles) CA
July 31, 2014 11:55 am
Hi Daniel
Every year we witness a few Green June Beetles burying themselves in the mulch in our backyard (which, we learned from you, is to lay eggs). However, this was the first time the dogs got close to one & they acted like they were sprayed by it, both were sneezing & shaking their heads when they got within a foot or less of the rear of the beetle. I couldn’t smell anything, and I was pretty close, trying to shoot photos with my phone. Additional photos and longer version of the story:
http://redcarproperty.blogspot.com/2014/07/corralitas-drive-green-june-beetle-on.html
Signature: Diane E

Figeater
Figeater

Hi Diane,
We have never heard of the ability of a Figeater, the common name for the Green Fruit Beetle that we prefer, being able to repel a dog.  This is most curious and we will see what we can learn.  The MWHA has just written a letter in support of the preservation of Flat Top in Montecito Heights.

Dog sniffs Figeater
Dog sniffs Figeater

Letter 19 – Sap Loving Insects: Mouning Cloak, Figeater and Beetle Larva

 

late summer bug party
Location: Silver City NM
September 1, 2011 6:08 pm
These pics are from last year, but the same thing is happening again. On my Navajo globe willow, the green beetles seem to be doing something that attracts the brown butterflies. Also, there’s a funny fuzzy little guy in there too. What is going on? What are these bugs?
Signature: hwecks

Sap Party with Mourning Cloak and Figeater

In England, the butterfly known as the Mourning Cloak in America,  is called the Camberwell Beauty.  The metallic green beetle is a Figeater.  The other creature is the larva of some soft winged beetle.  The tree is oozing sap and that doesn’t seem like a good thing.  The tree may have Borers.  We hope you allow this exciting coeval feast to continue and closely observe the insects that come to the sap.  Setting up night lights will attract moths, and many gorgeous Owlet Moths will be attracted to the luscious liquid diet.  The Mourning Cloak will most likely begin hibernation as winter approaches.  Your winters are likely quite mild, and the Mourning Cloak will not have to survive months of frozen conditions.  This good meal of sugary sap would likely contribute to the survival of Mourning Cloaks in more hostile climates than that in Silver City, New Mexico.  

Thanks for the prompt reply.  I’ll set up lights this weekend.

Authors

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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Tags: Figeater Beetle

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24 Comments. Leave new

  • Back home, in the Ozarks, we called these “June Bugs”. It was fun to tie a piece of thread to a hind leg and let them fly around or catch a jar full of them just for fun or fish with. That was entertainment!

    Reply
  • 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! =)

    Christina

    Reply
    • 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. 🙂

      Reply
  • Suz @ the beach
    August 19, 2013 9:56 am

    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.

    Reply
  • Thanks again for your response. I just wanted to add that I thought it was interesting how it dug itself into the mulch after taking this pic. I saw another comment on the Fig Eater of how this is normal behavior for egg laying. Thanks again for what you do!

    Reply
  • Gorgeous!

    Reply
  • Mac @ Breyerfest
    July 18, 2015 4:28 pm

    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.

    Reply
  • 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,
    Eleanore

    Reply
  • 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?

    Reply
  • We have tons of these here in Kansas. They are feeding on our tomatoes!

    Reply
  • 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!

    Reply
  • 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!

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • I have encountered this before. This is the first time I have ever seen it mentioned by anyone except myself. A figeater beetle a few years back shot hot liquid out his/her sides. Not hot enough to hurt, I just got startled. The beetle was completely fine, in case you wondered.

    Reply
  • How do we control the larva or the bugs without dangerous chemicals as they are eating our nectarines! We live in central Nebraska. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Erika Stewart
    August 13, 2019 11:44 pm

    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.

    Reply
  • 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

    Reply
  • Hello… just a word question… I live in California and recently have had several large flying beetles (6) flying around in my house on different days? No open doors or windows for them to come in through just randomly found inside.. don’t know how they are getting in and was wondering if somehow they were laying eggs or hatching somewhere in unaware of?? July August & September? Thought maybe you could give me some insight?

    Reply
  • Thanks for the explanation and photos. I’ve lived in my home in N. Cal for over 30 years and just saw my first one today. It was really pretty and I had to go look it up. My neighbors fig tree is full of fruit so this make perfect sense.
    Cheers!
    FLM

    Reply

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