What Is A June Bug?

What is a June bug? The term June bug may refer to a number of different beetles native to different regions of Canada, the United States, or Europe. If you would like to know more about June bugs, you have come to the right place.

“I have my own views about Nature’s methods, though I feel that it is rather like a beetle giving his.” — Arthur Conan Doyle

June bugs may actually belong to different species. For example, the term may refer to a genus beetle scientifically known as phyllophaga. These beetles are generally known as June beetles or June bugs.

But the term may also refer to green June beetles, whose scientific name is Cotinis nitida, which live in the South East region of the United States. Also, the ten-lined June Beetle, known as the polyphylla decemlineata, which is a species native to western regions of Canada and the United States. Or, it could refer to the figeater beetle, or cotinis mutabilis, native to the western and southwestern regions of the United States. Finally, the term June bug may refer to the European chafer, or Rhizotrogus majalis/Amphimallon majalis, native to Europe, but now also present in North America.

June Bugs Love Electric Lights

One of the most noticeable things about June bugs (or junebugs) is their attraction to electric lights. It is not unusual to see them hanging around lit porches in early summer.

And while scientists do not yet know why June bugs are so attracted to electric lights, they do know that they have a short mating season, spanning just a few weeks before late May and early June. And that is the time of year where June bugs become more noticeable and why they get their popular name.

“I had a great time investigating the pigments of different mutant fruit flies by following experimental protocols published in Scientific American, and I also remember making my own beetle collection when it was still acceptable to make such collections.” — Paul Nurse

Another thing that we know about June bugs is that, depending on the specific species, sometimes only males are attracted to bight electric lights but, other times, both males are female are attracted to them indistinctly. Typically, June bugs will fly near electric lights frantically until daybreak. But they only do that during their mating season.

Image source: Pixabay

June bugs are other beetles that have been around for about 230 million years. Not only is that a lot longer than human beings, but June bugs had also been on Earth for many years before dinosaurs roamed the planet. And did you know that a fourth of all animals (not just insects) currently living on the planet belongs to the beetle species?

But beetles are very diverse and June bug is just the name of a handful of subspecies native to North America and Europe.

June Bugs Live Underground But Can They Fly

Although most people only notice June bugs in late May and early June, they are around all through the year. The reason why you do not notice is that they spend most of their lives underground. Their live spans can last as much as three years, most of which they spend in the soil, particularly under a healthy lawn where they can gnaw on grassroots.

Surprisingly, June bugs have wings. In fact, they have two separate sets of wings. But they are not very good at flying. That is partly because only one of their two sets of wings provides lift. They mostly use their wings during their short annual mating season to travel in the direction of electric light. But they are so frantic about it that they become exhausted from flying very easily.

They are so bad at flying and become so frantic during their mating season that they often crash down to the ground or against window screens, which shortens their lifespans considerably. Even though that is bad news for June bugs, it is good news for the other animals, birds and mammals alike, who then eat them. Some of the animals that eat June bugs include blue jays, crows, raccoons, and skunks.

June Bugs: Nuisance?

It is hard to generalize about June bugs because, as we saw, there are many different species that are referred to by that name. But there are a few things that could be said, and they would apply to all the different beetle species referred to as June bugs.

For example, most June bugs are most active at night. Then it is when they do both their feeding and their breeding. The only exception to this is the Japanese beetle, popillia japonica, which has diurnal habits and follows a daytime cycle of activity.

Although some people may find them to be a nuisance, particularly in early summer, these bugs are not aggressive. Unlike other insects, June bugs do not bite people and have no interest in attacking us. If you feel a tiny pinch when a June bug lands on you, that is not a bit by an accidental pinch by the spines on their legs.

“It is better to be a young june-bug than an old bird of paradise.” — Mark Twain

One reason why many people do not like June bugs is that most species referred to by that name tend to be relatively big, round, and plump, giving them an appearance that many people find disgusting.

Their larvae are soil-based and can be considered pests. If you have a serious problem with this lawn pest, you could get read of them in different ways. You can treat the grubs with a sprayer (there are different brands available).

But if they are attacking specific plants in your yard, you could just handpick them yourself (or get your gardener or someone else to do it). All you need to have is a bucket when soapy water nearby, so you can drop them June bugs into it to get rid of them. Remember that June bugs will not attack you or bite you so this method to get rid of them is safe.

Finally, you can swat the adult June bugs is you see them on their window screens after dark. You will just need a fly swatter or a similar instrument.