Figeater beetles, also known as green fruit beetles or Cotinis mutabilis, are often observed in gardens and orchards, especially during the summer months. These vibrant green beetles are native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, and they play a crucial role in the decomposition of organic matter such as fruits and flowers.
Symbolically, figeater beetles represent regeneration and the cycle of life. Their ability to consume decaying plant material and facilitate the breakdown of organic matter highlights the concept of transformation and rebirth in nature. As a result, it’s interesting to explore the different aspects of figeater beetle symbolism and how these fascinating creatures can provide insights into our own lives and personal growth.
Figeater Beetle Basics
Identification and Appearance
Figeater beetles, scientifically known as Cotinis mutabilis, are a type of scarab beetle. They are often confused with Green June beetles. Here’s a comparison of their appearances:
|Green June Beetle
|Greenish with a metallic luster
|Greener and less metallic
- Both beetles belong to the scarab beetle family
- Figeater beetles are green with a metallic sheen, while Green June beetles are greener and less metallic.
Habitat and Range
Figeater beetles are primarily found in the southwestern United States, although they do overlap with some eastern species like the Green June beetle. Their preferred habitats include:
- Areas with fruit trees
- Gardens with vegetable plants
Diet and Feeding Habits
The diet of Figeater beetles mainly consists of:
- Overripe fruit
- Vegetable matter
- Some tree sap
Figeater beetles are less destructive than their Green June beetle counterparts, which are known to cause more damage to fruits and vegetables. In summary, Figeater beetles are an interesting species of scarab beetle, readily identifiable by their appearance, habitat, and feeding habits.
Lifecycle and Reproduction
Larvae and Grubs
Figeater beetles, scientifically known as Cotinis mutabilis, lay their eggs in decomposing organic material. The larvae, also known as grubs, then hatch from these eggs after a few days. Grub characteristics include:
- Creamy white color
- Soft, C-shaped bodies
- Grow up to 2 inches
The larvae primarily feed on organic matter and are responsible for breaking down dead plant material. As they grow, they mature through several stages called instars. Eventually, they reach the pupal stage and undergo metamorphosis to transform into adults. Pupation occurs in a compact earthen cell, and it takes approximately 1-2 weeks for an adult to emerge.
Adult figeater beetles have striking looks and unique features:
- Vibrant green color
- Oval-shaped bodies
- Approximately 1.25 inches long
They feed on a variety of ripe, soft fruits, such as figs, peaches, and berries. Adult beetles also contribute to pollination as they move from flower to flower in search of nectar and other sweet secretions. The lifecycle of figeater beetles spans from the egg stage to adult, providing a unique and interesting perspective on these insects’ symbolism.
Impact on Gardens and Agriculture
Dung beetles: Figeater beetles, being part of the scarab beetle family, share similarities with dung beetles. They play a role in breaking down organic matter in the soil, assisting with fertilization and contributing to a healthier ecosystem.
Pollination: While not as efficient as bees or butterflies, figeater beetles can aid in the pollination process. Their attraction to Magnolia flowers helps facilitate cross-pollination, which in turn fosters plant growth and diversity.
Fruit destruction: The figeater beetle, also known as green fruit beetle, is notorious for causing damage to ripe and overripe fruits such as figs, tomatoes, grapes, peaches, plums, and berries. The adult beetles are attracted to the fermentation odors and consume the fruit, causing loss in yield.
Turf damage: The beetle larvae, known as grubs, feed on grass roots and decayed organic matter, causing harm to grass and turf areas. A thick turf can help reduce the damage from fig beetles.
Here is a comparison table of figeater beetles (FB) and Japanese beetles (JB):
|Figeater Beetle (FB)
|Japanese Beetle (JB)
|Western US, warmer climates
|Eastern US, cooler climates
|Ripe and overripe fruit
|Leaves, flowers, fruit
|Damage to Gardens
|Leaves, flowers, grass roots
|No significant sound
Pros of Figeater Beetles:
- Contribute to soil fertility by breaking down organic matter
- Assist in pollination of certain plants
Cons of Figeater Beetles:
- Damage ripe and overripe fruits
- Cause harm to turf and grass roots
To minimize the negative effects of figeater beetles, it’s essential to maintain a clean garden, remove overripe fruit, and avoid excessive use of manure and compost that may attract beetles. Implementing biological control methods, such as introducing predators or parasites instead of using harmful pesticides, can also help keep the fig beetle population in check.
Methods of Control and Prevention
Figeater beetles have several natural predators, including:
- Digger wasps
For example, birds like mockingbirds can help reduce figeater beetle populations by feeding on the adult beetles and their larvae. This is a safe and environmentally-friendly way to control these pests.
To prevent figeater beetles, here are some effective cultural practices:
- Proper irrigation
- Exposure to sunlight
- Removing decaying plant matter
For instance, using flood irrigation can help control these pests by creating an unsuitable environment for their larvae to thrive. This method also promotes healthy turf and strong grass roots.
Chemical control should be used as a last resort. Some available pesticides include:
|Effective against adult beetles
|May harm beneficial insects
|Low toxicity to mammals
|Can negatively impact pollinators
Caution: Always read and follow the label instructions on pesticides. Use them carefully and only when necessary. Avoid overuse to minimize negative effects on the environment and non-target organisms.
Symbolism and Spiritual Significance
Figeater beetles, also known as green fruit beetles, are associated with various symbolic meanings in different cultures. In some traditions, they represent:
- Power: Their strong flight capabilities symbolize strength and power.
- Change: The metamorphosis they undergo represents change and transformation.
- Creativity: With their vibrant green color, they are also seen as symbols of creativity.
Dreams and Personal Growth
Encountering a figeater beetle in dreams could signify:
- Spiritual growth: The presence of a figeater beetle in a dream may be a sign of spiritual growth or development.
- Strength: Seeing a black beetle in dreams may symbolize inner strength and resilience.
Good Luck and Positivity
Figeater beetles can also symbolize:
- Good luck: In some beliefs, they are thought to bring good fortune.
- Hope: They can signify hope and a solution to problems.
- Connection to the universe: Their presence may symbolize a connection to the greater universe and spiritual realms.
In summary, the symbolism and spiritual significance of figeater beetles cover a wide range of concepts such as power, change, creativity, spiritual growth, and good luck. These diverse interpretations serve as reminders to be open to new opportunities and embrace personal growth in different aspects of life.
In summary, the figeater beetle symbolism carries various meanings and interpretations. For instance:
- Symbol of transformation: Due to their life cycle stages, beetles like figeater symbolize metamorphosis and personal growth.
- Connection to nature: As they are part of the natural world, beetles teach us the importance of environmental balance and conservation.
When analyzing beetle symbolism, one must take cultural and, sometimes, personal perspectives into account. By observing the traits and habits of figeater beetles, we can derive valuable insights and lessons to apply in our lives.
Comparing figeater beetles to other well-known symbolic insects, such as butterflies or dragonflies, we can appreciate the diverse ways nature imparts wisdom and inspiration. The table below illustrates this:
|Transformation, connection to nature
|Change, hope, life
|Poise, agility, self-realization
Examining the symbolism of figeater beetles can help us develop a deeper appreciation for the natural world and our place within it.
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 – Crawlybacks in the compost pile
Giant larva in my copost bin?
Location: Burbank, California
May 1, 2011 5:39 pm
We get lots of interesting creatures in our compost and I see many of these larve that are about as thick around as my middle finger. Last time I was turning the compost, I pulled a few out to take a picture and hopefully identify them.
I hope you can help, my kids and especially interested in learning what they areso they can tel their classmates at school.
Our guess was perhaps tomato bug larvae?
Signature: Curious Dad
Hi Curious Dad,
You have Crawlybacks, the larvae of the Green Fruit Beetle or Figeater, Cotinus mutabilis. The name Crawlyback is discussed by Charles Hogue in his awesome book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, where he writes that the larvae “obtain purchase on the substratum with traverse rows of still short stout bristles on the back of the thorax.” The larvae do not affect lawns or grass. The bright metallic green adults are active in August and September.
Letter 2 – Fig Tree Borer from South Africa: Phryneta spinator
Subject: ??Beetle in South Africa
Location: South Africa
March 20, 2013 11:04 am
I am a missionary in Knysna, South Africa and LOVE taking pictures. Lately I have been focusing on finding interesting creepy crawlies. We are at the end of summer and this beetle (if it is that) was found outside the hotel where we meet for services. I have NO idea what it is. Do you??
Signature: Scared, but faking braveness for the photo, Amy
This is a Longhorned Borer Beetle in the family Cerambycidae. Members of the family are also known as Longicorns, Capricorns or Bycids. We will try to determine the species for you. Though they are not dangerous, large individuals should be handled with caution as they have very powerful mandibles that are used to chew their way out of the wood they bored in as larvae. It is conceivable that a bite might draw blood and be painful.
Update: December 29, 2013
We just recieved a comment indicating that this is a Fig Tree Borer, Phryneta spinator, and we found a matching photo on BioDiversity Explorer.
Letter 3 – Fig Borer from Israel
Huge bug found in Israel
Location: Israel (Tel Aviv area)
September 20, 2011 5:35 am
Thank you for this wonderful web site. This bug I found on my balcony on the 9th floor at the end of August 2011 in Israel. Well, I have never seen such a huge and beautiful bug, it looks like a prehistoric one. Wow!
My cat first discovered it and she started to play with it. When she touched him he started to move his head (like bowing) and was producing sounds of wooden branch creak. The size of the bug is 3 to 4 inches. Supposedly it can fly.
Well, I let him free in the nearby garden. My can was very disappointed. 🙂
Please identify it.
Signature: Julia K
Your cat discovered a Mango Stem Borer, Batocera rufomaculata. In Israel where it causes damage to the trees in fig plantations, it is known as the Fig Borer. You can see some links to other websites by viewing the earlier posting of a Mango Stem Borer from Israel.
Thank you Daniel!!! It so great that so quickly identified it, i will look into your link. Thanks a bunch!
Letter 4 – Fig Eater
San Diego Beetle
I saw this beetle in the bushes at the San Diego zoo last fall. It was about an inch long and flew off after the picture was taken. I have seen a few of them around the area, do you know what it is? I have attached a picture and any help you can give me would be great! I love the site and check it all the time!
This is a Green Fruit Beetle or Fig Eater, Cotinus mutabilis. This large green metalic scarab flies in August and September and produces a loud buzzing in flight. Eggs are laid in compost piles and adults feed on fruit, especially peaches and figs.
Letter 5 – Figeater
Could you help me with this one?
We believe this is a Green Fruit Beetle, also known as a Figeater, but we cannot be certain that your photo was taken in the American Southwest. If it was taken in Bali, it is some other green scarab.
Letter 6 – Figeater
Subject: help beetle ID
Location: San Diego County
August 22, 2016 11:18 am
I’m a bird photographer. Keep seeing this flying beetle buzzing through when I’m shooting hummingbirds. It’s large enough that it keeps catching my field of vision as a hummer. But a bit smaller. Flies very fast in large circular motions. Tried getting it in flight but no luck. Finally got a shot of it on a flower. Thought I could easily find it’s ID because of size and coloring. No luck though. Can you help?
Signature: Gerald Friesen
This distinctive Scarab Beetle is commonly called a Figeater and they are especially noticeable during the hot days of summer.
Thank you so very much.
If you ever need a bird ID, please let me know.