There’s a certain charm to the sight of a fig tree laden with ripe, juicy fruit, but what happens when this idyllic scene is interrupted by an unwelcome visitor?
Enter the figeater beetle, a green, iridescent insect that can cause significant damage to your fig harvest.
While these beetles can be a nuisance, you can effectively prevent and control figeater beetle infestations.
Prevention strategies for fig beetles include maintaining the health of your fig trees and removing potential breeding sites. Control measures can include installing physical barriers, using traps, hand-picking the pests, and the use of insecticides.
This comprehensive guide will provide you with everything you need to know about figeater beetles from their life cycle and feeding habits to the damage they cause and how to manage them.
So, let’s dive in and learn how to protect your fig trees from these pesky pests!
- Figeater beetles are a type of scarab beetle that feed on ripe fruit, causing significant damage to crops, including fig trees.
- Figeater beetles have a rapid life cycle, allowing their populations to increase quickly under the right conditions.
- Prevention strategies include regular monitoring, maintaining tree health, and removing potential breeding sites.
- Control strategies include using physical barriers, traps, hand-picking, and insecticides.
Keeping your fig tree as healthy as possible is key to combatting issues, but problems may still arise. Learn about common issues and how to treat them in my article Fig Tree Diseases and Pests.
Understanding Figeater Beetles
Before we can effectively prevent and control figeater beetles, we need to understand what these insects are and how they behave.
Figeater Beetle Description
Figeater beetles, also known as Cotinis mutabilis, are a type of scarab beetle. They are easily recognizable by their green, iridescent color and their size, which can reach up to 1 inch in length.
The beetles have a robust, oval shape and are often mistaken for green June beetles due to their similar appearance.
Figeater Beetle Range
Figeater beetles are native to the southwestern United States and Mexico.
They are most commonly found in areas with fig trees, although they can also be found in gardens and orchards where they feed on a variety of ripe fruits.
Figeater Beetle Life Cycle
The life cycle of the figeater beetle begins when the female lays her eggs in well-rotted organic material, such as compost piles or decaying fruit.
The eggs hatch into larvae, or grubs, that feed on the organic material.
After several weeks to months, the larvae pupate and emerge as adult beetles, ready to feed on ripe fruit and start the cycle again.
Figeater Beetle Feeding Habits & Behavior
Figeater beetles are primarily fruit eaters. They are attracted to ripe, soft fruits, such as figs, peaches, and grapes.
The beetles feed by piercing the fruit’s skin and consuming the soft, juicy flesh inside, thus ruining the fruit.
They are most active during the warm summer months and are often seen flying around fruit trees during the day.
Figeater Beetle Larvae
Figeater beetle larvae, or grubs, are cream-colored and have a distinctive C-shape.
They are often found in compost piles or in soil rich in organic material, where they feed on decaying plant matter.
While the grubs are not typically harmful to plants, they can be a nuisance in compost piles or lawns.
Damage Caused by Figeater Beetles
Figeater beetles can cause significant damage to ripe fruit. The beetles pierce the skin of the fruit to feed, leaving behind a wound that can lead to rot or secondary infections.
In heavy infestations, the beetles can cause significant crop loss.
Impacts on Tree Health & Fruit
While figeater beetles primarily cause damage to fruit, they do not typically harm the tree itself.
However, the damage they cause to the fruit can impact the tree’s overall productivity and the quality of the harvest.
Figeater Beetle Look-Alikes
Figeater beetles are often mistaken for green June beetles, which are similar in size and color.
However, figeater beetles can be distinguished by their more iridescent color, larger size, tendency to appear later in the season, and their preference for ripe fruit.
Figeater Beetle Prevention
Preventing figeater beetles involves several strategies.
- Maintaining the health of your fig trees can make them less attractive to the beetles.
- Regularly removing fallen fruit and other potential breeding sites can also help prevent an infestation.
- Covering your compost pile can prevent female beetles from laying their eggs in it.
Controlling Figeater Beetle Infestation
If you do find yourself dealing with a figeater beetle infestation, there are several strategies you can use to control these pests.
Physical barriers, such as netting or row covers, like this one, can be used to prevent beetles from accessing your fig trees.
These barriers should be put in place before the fruit ripens and should be securely fastened to prevent beetles from getting underneath.
Traps can be used to catch and kill figeater beetles. These traps often use a pheromone or food attractant to lure the beetles in. Once inside, the beetles are unable to escape and eventually die.
If you are unable to find traps specifically for figeater beetles, traps for Japanese beetles will work.
If the infestation is small, hand-picking can be an effective method of control. This involves physically removing the beetles from the tree and disposing of them.
Hand-picking is most effective when done early in the morning or late in the evening when the beetles are less active.
Insecticides can be used to kill figeater beetles. However, they should be used as a last resort as they can also kill beneficial insects and may have other negative environmental impacts.
Insecticides will likely land on developing fruit, so keep that in mind if you are wary of chemicals.
Are Figeater Beetles Dangerous?
Figeater beetles are not dangerous to humans or pets. They do not bite or sting, and their primary interest is in ripe fruit.
However, they can cause significant damage to fruit crops, which can be a concern for gardeners and farmers.
Do Figeater Beetles Come Back Every Year?
Yes, figeater beetles can come back every year, particularly if there are ripe fruits and suitable breeding sites available.
Regular monitoring and preventative measures can help keep their numbers in check.
Figeater beetles can be a serious pest for fig trees, but there are several options for effective eradication.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with figeater beetles or their eastern counterparts, June beetles, but if you do, you now know how to handle the problem.
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