As the months of late spring give way to those of early summer, the bugs that characterize the season start crawling out of the woodwork. From lightning bugs and butterflies to luna moths and ladybugs, summer simply wouldn't be the same without the wide array of insects that hatch during the months of June, July and August and fly through the skies on warm summer afternoons and evenings. One such insect-the June bug-earned its name after the month it initially makes its appearance each year. To learn more about these unique insects that likely inhabit your own yard, check out the following June bug facts.
What is a June bug?
June bugs-which are sometimes referred to as "June beetles'-are a nocturnal type of beetle that are commonly found throughout North America, particularly the northeastern portion of the United States. Over 200 species of June bugs exist in the United States alone. The bugs are reddish-brown, mahogany or black in color with underbellies that are typically a metallic golden color. They range in size from 0.5 to 1.5 inches when fully grown. Because June bugs are strongly attracted to lights, they are often seen near porch lights and streetlights after the sun has set and tend to swarm in groups. The insects belong to the Scarabaeidae family and Melolonthinae order and are members of the Phyllophaga genus.
Life cycle of a June bug
Female June bugs lay between 60 and 75 tiny white eggs underground over a two week period in mid-summer. After approximately 18 days, the eggs hatch into larvae-also known as "grubs"-which measure about 8 mm in length at birth and grow to about 40 mm. The grubs are white or cream in color with a brown head and brown spiracles that wrap around the sides of their bodies. Grubs molt twice before the cold winter months arrive and stay in the grub phase for a period of 2-3 years. June bug grubs pupate in the fall, and adult June bugs begin to emerge from deep within the soil in the early spring.
Adult June bugs hide during the day and are spotted most frequently in the evenings in early summer when they search for foliage to feast upon. The average lifespan of a June bug is one year, although many larvae don't live long enough to reach maturity because they are eaten during the grub phase by predators such as birds and skunks which dig them out of the soil.
Diet of a June bug
June bugs are often considered to be backyard pests due to the amount of damage the species can do to crops, lawns and gardens, particularly when they are in the grub phase of their lives. Grubs that burrow deep within the soil feed on the roots of grass, weeds, flowers, vegetables and ornamental plants, causing the vegetation to turn yellow or brown and die from root loss. June bugs are particularly pesky for farmers whose crops are often damaged due to the presence of the grubs which frequently make a meal of the roots of potatoes, corn, sugarcane and other crops.