Figeater Beetle Flying: Quick Guide for Curious Minds

The figeater beetle, also known as the green fruit beetle, is a fascinating insect due to its large size and distinct buzzing sound when flying. These beetles are attracted to ripe fruit and the odors of fermentation and manure, making them a common sight around orchards and gardens during the late summer and fall months source.

Figeater beetles are capable of flying relatively long distances, allowing them to cover ample ground in search of their preferred food sources. During their flights, the beetles may become a nuisance to some, while others enjoy observing their striking metallic green or blue appearance source.

Figeater Beetle Overview

Physical Description

The Figeater beetle, also known as the green fruit beetle or Cotinis mutabilis, is an eye-catching insect with a semi-glossy, iridescent green color. It has six legs, which are used for crawling and climbing. The adults are usually seen flying around in search of fruits during warm summer months.

  • Color: Iridescent green
  • Legs: Six
  • Size: Approximately 1.25 inches

Scientific Classification

The Figeater beetle belongs to the family Scarabaeidae and the genus Cotinis within the order of Coleoptera. Its classification is as follows:

  • Family: Scarabaeidae
  • Genus: Cotinis
  • Species: Cotinis mutabilis

This beetle is a type of scarab beetle known for its striking appearance and preference for figs.

Life Cycle and Habitats

Eggs and Larvae

Figeater beetles start their life cycle as eggs, which are usually laid in soil or mulch. The eggs hatch into white grubs called larvae, which feed on organic matter like decomposing plants or overripe fruit. Some characteristics of the larvae include:

  • White color
  • “Crawly back” appearance
  • Preference for damp environments

Examples of suitable habitats for larvae include compost piles and leaf litter.

Pupa and Adult Beetle

After some time, the larvae will pupate into the pupa stage. This stage typically occurs during the winter months, as the grubs will find shelter inside the soil. As they transform into adult figeater beetles, their color and appearance change. Here’s a comparison table of their features:

Larvae (Grubs) Pupa and Adult Beetle
White color Metallic green color
Crawly backs Hard wing covers (elytra)
Found in damp environments Attracted to lights at night

Adult beetles have a preference for overripe fruits and are known for their flying abilities. They can be commonly found in gardens and orchards, feeding on fruits like figs, peaches, and plums. They contribute to pollination, making them essential for certain plants.

By understanding the life cycle and habitats of figeater beetles, we can better appreciate their role in the ecosystem and learn how to coexist with them in our gardens and orchards.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Preferred Fruits

The diet of the Figeater beetle, also known as the green fruit beetle or the green June beetle, primarily consists of ripe and overripe fruits. Some examples of their favorite fruits include:

  • Ripe figs
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Grapes
  • Berries
  • Cactus fruit

Other Foods

Aside from fruits, these beetles also consume:

  • Nectar
  • Sap
  • Petals
  • Organic material

However, they seem to have a preference for fruits in their diet. For instance, they may feed on ripe fruit like tomatoes, but their real attraction lies in the sweetness of overripe fruits. Their powerful, serrated mouthparts allow them to easily consume the softer parts of ripe or overripe fruits, leaving behind holes and damaged flesh.

While feeding primarily on fruits, figeater beetles’ secondary food sources show their adaptability and ability to benefit from multiple food resources.

Behavior and Interaction with Their Environment

Pollination

Figeater beetles, also known as green fig beetles, play an essential role in pollinating fig trees, particularly in the Southwest. These beetles visit flowers to feed on their pollen and sweet floral secretions, contributing to the pollination process. The pollination often occurs during the summer and fall months when the beetles are most active.

Loud Buzzing and Flight

Green fig beetles have a distinct buzzing sound that many people associate with their presence. This buzzing noise is particularly noticeable during their flight, as they search for food or shelter. These beetles are known to fly around outdoor spaces, often getting attracted to screens and staying in the shade of trees. The following are some characteristics of their behavior:

  • Active mainly during summer and fall
  • Emit a loud buzzing sound during flight
  • Often found around screens and the shade of trees

When comparing green fig beetles’ flight to other similar insects, the following table can be helpful:

Insect Flight Speed Buzzing Sound Pollination
Green Fig Beetle Moderate Loud Yes
Honeybee Fast Moderate Yes
Monarch Butterfly Slow Absent Yes

In conclusion, understanding the behavior and interaction of figeater beetles with their environment helps us appreciate their role in pollination and their distinct summer and fall presence, characterized by loud buzzing sounds during flight.

Natural Predators and Pest Control

Birds and Chickens

  • Birds: Many bird species are natural predators of figeater beetles, helping to reduce their population in your lawn or garden.
  • Chickens: Chickens love to eat figeater beetles, particularly in Mexico, where these beetles are more prominent.

Raising chickens in your backyard can be an effective way to control figeater beetles. They will happily devour beetles they find on leaves or in your garden’s soil. For example, a flock of free-ranging chickens can assist in keeping beetle populations in check.

Chemical Control

Chemical control might be necessary when natural predators are insufficient in controlling the beetles. Here are some pros and cons of using chemical control methods:

Pros:

  • Effective in reducing figeater beetle populations
  • Can protect vulnerable plants like corn

Cons:

  • May harm beneficial insects or predators
  • Requires careful application to avoid harm to non-target organisms
Birds & Chickens Chemical Control
Effectiveness Medium High
Safety to ecology High Medium
Maintenance Low Medium

In summary, using natural predators such as birds and chickens can be an effective and environmentally friendly approach to controlling figeater beetles. However, if their presence becomes overwhelming, resorting to chemical control methods might be necessary. Always try to opt for eco-friendly and targeted solutions to ensure minimal impact to other organisms within the ecosystem.

Figeater Beetles in Gardens and Orchards

Compost and Organic Matter

Figeater beetles, also known as green fruit beetles (Cotinis nitida), are a type of scarab beetle commonly found in the southwestern United States. They belong to the flower chafers subfamily and are often mistaken for June bugs or June beetles, such as Popillia japonica. Figeater beetles are attracted to overripe fruits, decaying organic matter, and manure, which is why they are commonly found in gardens and orchards with compost piles or manure piles.

These beetles lay their eggs in compost, manure, or decaying plant matter. Larval stages feed on decomposing organic material, benefiting the natural decomposition process.

Here are some characteristics of figeater beetles:

  • Appearance: Metallic green head and body with a coppery sheen and a large, broad shape.
  • Size: Adults can measure up to 1.25 inches long.
  • Flight: Capable of flying long distances in search of food sources.
  • Damage: Adults are known to consume ripe and overripe fruits, causing damage to fruit trees.

Managing Infestations

Infestations of figeater beetles in gardens or orchards can be managed by reducing their access to food sources and suitable breeding sites. If you notice a significant population increase, consider the following actions:

  1. Remove overripe fruits: Regularly harvest ripe fruits and remove any fallen, overripe fruits. This will help to prevent the beetles from feeding and laying eggs in your fruit trees.

  2. Maintain compost piles: Turn compost piles regularly and keep them covered, to prevent beetles from laying eggs in the organic matter.

  3. Reduce manure at sites: Manage and maintain manure piles to minimize the attraction of figeater beetles.

  4. Install window screens: To prevent beetles from entering homes or greenhouses, install screens on windows and other openings.

While figeater beetles can cause some damage to gardens and orchards, they play a helpful role in the natural decomposition of organic materials. Being mindful of their presence and managing their population through the methods mentioned above can help strike a balance between their ecological benefits and potential harm to your plants.

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 – 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.

Crawly-Backs

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.

Crawly-Back

Letter 2 – Crawly-Back

 

whats this bug?
Location:  Los Angeles
October 12, 2010 4:14 pm
These are in my compost… at first I thought they were soldier fly larva from looking at your site.. but these guys have little arms on top of their head to help push dirt over them.
Signature:  Dr. Green Thumb

Crawly-Back

Hi Dr. Green Thumb,
The larvae of the Green Fruit Beetle or Figeater is often found in compost piles and it goes by the common name Crawly-Back because of the way it propels itself through the strata.  The common name Crawly-Back is courtesy of Charles Hogue and his excellent book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin.  The species name is
Cotinis mutabilis, and you can find more information in our archives and on BugGuide.

Crawly-Back

Letter 3 – Crawlyback

 

Subject: creature 2 in my garden
Location: Hawthorne, CA
January 24, 2013 5:36 pm
Last time I contacted you wonderful folks I sent you pics of what you later identified as a scarab beetle grub, or June bug grub. I have also found another creature, very similar, yet different to that other grub. The ”head” of creature number 2 is a different color and it’s ”arms” seem different. Also, crazy creature number 2 is FAST. I have video of this thing wiggling across the floor on it’s back, legs up in the air! so odd… can you identify what this one is, too? Thanks!!!
Signature: Bef so Def

Crawlyback

Hi Bef,
This is also the grub of a Scarab Beetle, but the behavior you describe indicates it is most likely a Crawlyback, the larva of a green scarab known as a FigeaterCrawlybacks are often found in compost piles.

Crawlyback

Letter 4 – Crawlyback

 

Subject:  Wow
Location:  California
February 4, 2015
Daniel!!! Tell me please, what’s this bug?!
Cori

Crawlyback
Crawlyback

Hi Cori,
This is a Crawlyback, the larva of a Figeater or Green Fruit Beetle.  Crawlybacks are often found in compost piles.

Authors

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  • 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.

  • 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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