What is a June Bug?
The name "June bug" refers to any of the 300 species of beetles that are related to the scarabs familiar from ancient Egyptian iconography. Other common names for the June bug include June Beetle, May Beetle and Japanese Beetle. The common June bug is one-half to five-eighths inches long and can be green, brown or reddish-brown in color. Being beetles, they also sport shiny wing covers, called elytra.
June bugs are best known for causing damage to gardens, lawns, and pastures. They are considered ‘chafers’, meaning they eat vegetation, i.e. leaves, However, in their grub form, they wreak havoc on roots. They will not eat the entire leaf, but over time, plants will be damaged. Their scientific name is Phyllophaga, Greek for leaf eater.) They do not typically cause much damage to trees, however there are at least 6 trees that are known to suffer from June Bug infestations.
Which Trees Are Affected by June Bugs?
Japanese Maple with June Bug Damage
Japanese Maples & June Bugs
Japanese Maples, on occasion can suffer as much as your leafy garden plants when June Bugs are active. While it's rarely extensive enough to kill the Japanese Maple, it certainly does not lead to a healthy tree, and as these trees are often chosen for their beauty, these pests are problem enough affecting the beauty of your landscape. If you notice June Beetle damage on your Japanese Maple, you are likely noticing dead patches on your lawn as well.
Walnut Trees & June Bugs
While most damage caused by June Bugs is caused by their grubs, adult June Bugs love to snack on Walnut Tree Leaves. They are nocturnal and may be munching away on these leaves each night. If you notice leaf damage on your walnut trees, check in the evening for June Bug Swarms. Again, they are easily treated, and if you have adult June Bugs, you will get baby June bugs (grubs) that will attack your lawn and garden in a big way. Your walnut will likely stand up to some midnight June Bug snacks, but infestations can lead to a compromised tree, leaving it more susceptible to disease.
Fruit Trees & June Bugs
Loving Soft Fruit Trees, the Adult June Bug may swarm your favorite Fig Tree to consume the fruit juice from your figs. They are attracted to ripe fruits - especially if birds have pecked holes in the skin of the fruit.
They also love plum and apricot trees for the same reason. Apple trees are less susceptible to June Bugs, however, given the opportunity to feast on some apple juice, they won't pass up some free apple juice.
While they aren't likely to kill your tree, no one wants to share their fruit with a beetle. Luckily, June bugs are easy to treat for, especially with an experienced arborist on your side.
- June bugs are nocturnal.
- They feed from dusk through the evening hours to avoid predators.
- June bugs derive their name from the fact that adult June bugs emerge from the soil at the end of spring or the beginning of the summer.
- Late May and early June is mating season. The June bugs have just weeks to reproduce after that, they die.
- June bugs spend most of their lives underground.
- The white, grub-like larva of the June bug lives in soil for up to three years.
- They have an extra set of wings, but they can't fly worth squat. These notoriously lame flyers have two sets of wings. Only one pair provides what scientists call lift.
Although nocturnal, June Bugs are drawn to porch lights and scientists don’t understand why. June bugs that die because of porch light interactions though, provide an important source of food to many animals, including birds.
Females bury their eggs just below the soil surface. Each female buries between 50 and 200 small pearl-like eggs in the soil. After three years of feeding on plant roots, the larvae pupate, emerge as adults in late summer, and then bury themselves again for the winter In spring and early summer, these larva also known as grubs, grow into pupae. Within 3 weeks, these pupae mature into adult June bugs. Your lovely lawn is what draws June Bugs, where the grubs happily chomp away at the roots of your lawn’s grass.
- Dead patches of grass
- Damaged plants
- Bare patches
All are signs of a ground dwelling June Bug infestation. Overseeding seems to make your lawn less ‘tasty’ to these bugs. Make sure the lawn is well hydrated.
Trees at risk: While the grubs feed on roots, the adults feast on a wide variety of over 300 crops and flowers. They are known to prefer raspberries, grapes, beans, fig, apple, plum, and roses.
Common June bug: The common June bug is primarily found eating the foliage of leafy plants as well as maize, corn, and walnut and oak trees.
Some of the most common types are as follows:
Common June bug (Phyllophaga), discussed above.
Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica), this is a slightly smaller variety of June bug at around half an inch in length.
Green fruit beetle (Cotinis nitida) is a large bronze and metallic green beetle that is often seen in June and July flying in low, lazy circles just a few inches above lawns or turf grass. They don't sting or bite and are not dangerous to humans. They use their pincers to break the skin on figs
European Chafer (Rhizotrogus majalis), formerly found only in continental Europe, this invasive species is now found at temperate latitudes in North America. The large, white grubs of A.majale feed on the roots of most cool-latitude grasses, both wild and cultivated. This has made the European chafer an enemy of lawns.
The problem with having grub larvae in your lawn is that other animals are attracted and will tear up your lawn seeking out the grubs. So, June Bugs are trouble from one end of their lives to the other end.
There are some insects that are predators of June bugs, or fruit traps can be set. Only in the cases of severe infestations or a completely dead lawn are insecticides recommended.