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What are Those Large Beetles in My Garden?

Brown beetle with hairy body with black mottled pattern.
Figure 1. Bumble flower beetle adult with visible mottling pattern. Photo courtesy of Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org.

One of the insects that starts to attract attention this time of year is the bumble flower beetle. These large and noisy beetles somewhat resemble June beetles, but they show up later in the season. The reason everyone is noticing the bumble flower beetles is because they are attracted to and often feed on ripe garden produce. Although the bumble flower beetle and June beetle are related, there are quite a few characteristics that can be used to tell them apart. One of the biggest differences is the timing of their arrival. June beetles are most frequently observed from May to June, while the bumble flower beetle appears from late July until the first hard frost. Another distinguishing characteristic of the bumble flower beetle is its light to dark brown body color with black and light mottling patterns (Figure 1). Bumble flower beetles are also mostly covered in dense, light-colored hairs, and make a very noticeable buzzing sound while flying (Figure 2). 

Light brown beetle with light gray hair covering the body.
Figure 2. Bumble flower beetle with noticeably hairy body. Photo courtesy of Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org.

Bumble flower beetles show up during the end of the garden season when produce is already ripe. Although these beetles often get blamed for damage to tomatoes and apples, they are only feeding on produce that was already damaged. The bumble flower beetles are attracted to sweet or fermenting liquids and ripening crops. Bumble flower beetles are not considered a major pest, and the best way to manage them is to remove them from infested areas and destroy them. In addition, routine picking and removing damaged produce from the garden can reduce the presence of bumble flower beetles. For apple trees, remove any blemished apples and ground falls from around the base of the tree. Doing so should noticeably reduce bumble flower beetle numbers. 

Related Terms

Garden & Yard Issues, Flower