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Oh, Those Pesky June Bugs!

Have you ever been sitting out on your patio on a summer evening, heard a low-buzzing sound and then been hit in the head by a slow-flying beetle? If so, it was probably one of those pesky June bugs that crashed into you.
The months of May, June and July are when these clumsy fliers emerge from the soil. During the early evening hours, you’ll often see them flying around our lights and banging into our window screens.

An Adult June Bug

What you should know about June bugs
June bugs (genus Phyllophaga) are beetles in the family Scarabaeidae. These insects are about 1/2 to 5/8 inches long, and most in Orange County are reddish-brown in color.
The adult June bugs start emerging from the soil in the spring. During their flights, many will be attracted to lights. After mating, the females will tunnel into the soil (about 2 to 5 inches deep) and deposit their eggs. Small grubs (larvae) will hatch from the eggs after 3 to 4 weeks. These white grubs will remain in the soil throughout the fall and winter.
When fully grown, the grubs are white, “C”-shaped, and may grow up to 1 inch long. The grubs will go into their pupation stage (about 3 to 6 inches below ground) during the spring and early summer. Their pupation stage will last about 3 weeks. Once completed, the next generation of adults will emerge.
The life expectancy of a June bug is about one year.
Other than being a nuisance when we’re outdoors, these pests are medically harmless to humans.
What kind of damage do they do?
The grubs (larvae) are the ones that do most of the damage. They feed on grass, broadleaf weeds, tree and shrub roots. When large numbers of these grubs are feeding, you may see patches of your lawn that turn yellow and die. If you suspect that you have a problem with grubs, simply lift a section of the dead grass, and check the soil underneath. If you see curled white grubs in the soil, then you know what may have killed the grass.

June Bug Larvae

Another indication that you have a problem with grubs is when animals, such as raccoons and skunks, start digging holes in your lawn. June bug larvae are a rich source of protein and these animals love to eat these juicy treats.
What can you do about these pesky creatures?
The first way to minimize their impact is by maintaining your lawn and plants with the correct amount of irrigation and fertilization. Mowing your lawns at a height of 2 to 4 inches will also help.
Insecticide treatments may be needed when serious damage is occurring. If warranted, always select the least toxic product and carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
During this early summer season, you can reduce the numbers of them flying to your home by turning off your exterior lights. To keep them out of your home, make sure your door and window screens are in proper working order.

Croutons of the Sky?
Believe it or not, some people actually like eating June bugs. Jonathan Bobryk, of Novia Scotia, likes to fry them up and uses them like croutons on his salads. He said his mission is:
“… to educate my friends on how delicious June bugs are. This is a one time a year, pretty frickin ethical and definitely unique chance to harvest nature’s bounty. The taste is smoky and complex, and paired perfectly with the ceaser salad.”

There are a number of ways you can cook these things up. Some say the grubs (larval stage) are even tastier. Well, if that’s what you want to eat for dinner, that’s okay with me. Personally, I’ll be glad when they all fly away in another month or so!