5aa8a2ef8313dee5900b83cab0d78bf6
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 

 

During August, I often hear an approaching green fig beetle before I see it.

Out in the garden, it sounds like a jumbo jet coming in for a landing.

These giant fig beetles are terrible navigators as they clumsily bump into almost anything that is in their way. Buzzing in circles and zig-zagging their way, they seem to be unable to distinguish a white wall from open sky. I hear the buzz, then whack! as it smacks into the house – or me. Momentarily dazed as it wiggles on its backside; stunned but no worse off after its crash landing.

In a few moments it’s back on its feet, stumbling through the neighborhood in search of lunch, dinner, or both.

For dining, this huge, metallic green beetle prefers all-you-can-eat fruit salad bars. Ripe peaches or nectarines from your backyard tree are a favorite, but almost any soft fruit will do, including figs, plums, apricots, grapes, berries and others.

Fig Beatle

Dawn, a regular reader, wrote me a note last week about these frightening looking insects invading her garden. “I live in Costa Mesa-Mesa Verde where many of the homes have mature fruit trees. I myself have a peach tree along with a few grape vines. I have noticed these large green beetles in my yard in the past, but this year we have three times as many. I was lucky enough to save most of my peaches, but now the beetles are eating all my grapes. I am concerned as I have read that these beetles can take over an entire fruit orchard, and may in the long run, affect our entire neighborhood.”

Dawn wants to know the best way to control these beetles without using major insecticides. Says Dawn, “Do we treat the lawn area for the eggs/grubs or do we try to eliminate the beetles as adults? We have tried some sprays, but they do not appear to be working. I really need your advice”.

Big, one-inch long fig beetle are a common sight throughout much of the southern U.S during summer. Originally native to Arizona and New Mexico; they became noticeable in coastal southern California during the 1960s. Originally, cactus fruit were their native diet, but they now feed almost exclusively on garden and agricultural fruits.

As a child I remember catching these beetles in mid air, then tying a thread around one of their back legs and “flying” them around the backyard. It was great fun for me – probably not for the beetle.

Adult fig beetles are over an inch long and can be intimidating, especially to non gardeners. In spite of their size, fig beetles are completely harmless to humans. Velvet green on top and metallic green on the bottom, almost every beetle you see has scratches on its back due to its many collisions with houses, vehicles, fences, and even concrete driveways.

Control efforts, though difficult, are usually focused on the larvae, which are called grubs and feed on loose organic matter near the soil surface. These grubs may be as much as two inches long, C-shaped and are a translucent cream color with a tan head. The larvae of fig beetles do not feed in lawns or on plant roots, as do some other beetle grubs.

Home compost piles are a favorite breeding ground for fig beetle larvae. The grubs are actually very beneficial in a compost pile, but are usually discouraged because of their menacing appearance and the fruit-eating habits of the adults.

Controlling fig beetles in a home garden can be very difficult, and chasing the adult beetles around the garden with insecticidal sprays is useless. Start by inspecting neighborhood compost piles. If grubs are present simply turning the piles more frequently and getting them to heat up will eliminate the grubs. Larvae are also common in manure piles at horse stables.

During summer, adult fig beetles emerge and begin searching for their dining options. They locate their meal not by sight, but from an odorless gas emitted by the ripening fruit. Damage is done as the adults scrape a hole in the fruits and feed on the flesh inside.

Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar.

Questions from Readers August 16.

Question:
 
I want to begin worm composting, but someone told me that I can’t just use the earthworms from my garden?
 
Martha, Costa Mesa
 
Answer:
That’s correct. Worm composting, also called vermicomposting, is becoming quite popular, even with apartment dwellers and non-gardeners. It can be done in a very small space (even indoors), is odorless and requires no heavy lifting or strenuous work. Almost all your kitchen scraps, which would otherwise go down the garbage disposal, can be composted by worms into a rich fertilizer and soil amendment. This includes scraps from produce, leftovers from meals, fruit remnants, etc.; almost anything that is organic, except for meats. The worms that are used for composting are red worms, not earthworms, and you can get them at most garden centers.

Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar and his profile can be seen at https://themulch.com/profile-630291/609-ron-vanderhoff.


Articles about Insects, Diseases & Rodents (Click for Full List)

Asian Citrus Psyllid

Asian Citrus Psyllids - New Citrus Pest a Serious Threat

By now you may have heard about a new pest that was discovered last month in Orange County.
Canna Leaf Roller

Canna Leaf Rollers & Other Common Bugs

Summer has arrived in the south and the bright colors of the Cannas are everywhere.

Controlling Snails and Slugs in Your Garden

26584 Walter Andersen Nursery
Snails & Slugs
These pesky creatures can drive you crazy.

How to Prevent and Treat Powdery Mildew

2120 San Diego Seed Company
Brijette Peña
For any of us that grow close to the coast or in areas that get lots of morning dew or…

Life and Death Struggles at play in your Garden

3816 Ron Vanderhoff
Lady Bug Eating Aphids
Not long ago gardeners seemed to spend as much time controlling pests as they did any…

New Palm Pest Garnering Much Attention

4469 Ron Vanderhoff
Red Palm Weevil
Earlier this month I reported on the discovery in Laguna Beach of the world's most…

New Pest of Palms Discovered In Laguna Beach

6209 Ron Vanderhoff
Red Palm Weevil
Imagine the Southern California skyline without the presence of majestic date palms and…

New Pest Walking through the Garden

11034 Ron Vanderhoff
Walking Stick
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a Costa Mesa gardener.

No Need to Panic Over a Few Summer Pests

4253 Ron Vanderhoff
Rose Slugs
Summer is upon us. Not only are temperatures rising, but so is the likelihood of a few…

Oh My -- There's a Hideous Blob in my Garden

35813 Ron Vanderhoff
Slime Mold
If you are reading this while feasting on a scrambled egg breakfast, you may want to turn…

Sudden Oak Death Found in Presidio National Park

5838 The Mulch Team
Healthy Coastal Live Oak
SAN FRANCISCO — A coast live oak tree in Presidio National Park has been found infected…

Featured Plant Care

Rose Monthly Plant Care Midwest

Rose (Rosa hybrid 'Home Run') - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Roses
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Plant Care for Perennials in Zone 24

Plant Care Recommendations - Perennials - Sunset Zone 24

Do you live In coastal southern California? Do you grow any of these plants?
California Poppy Monthly Plant Care

Poppy - California (Eschscholzia californica) - Monthly Plant Care Reminders

in Annuals
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Blue Ginger Monthly Plant Care

Dichorisandra thyrsiflora (Blue Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Latest Articles

Edit Your Tagged Photos!

How to Edit or Remove A Plant "Tag" In Your Garden Photos

Instead of 'Tagging' your friends on Facebook, now you can 'Tag' your Plants in your…
Seed Starting

10 Easy Cut Flowers to Direct Sow

in Seeds
A cut-flower garden or "cutting garden" allows you to bring the beauty of your garden…

Popular Articles

Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…
Kahili Ginger Plant Care

Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)