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Extension Entomology

Tag: bumble bees

Green June Beetles: Out-and-About

— by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Green June beetle (Cotinis nitida) adults are actively flying around and “bumping” into people and objects. Adults are 3/4 to 1.0 inches in length, and velvety-green, tinged with yellow-brown coloration (Figure 1).

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Fig 1: Close-up of adult green June beetle.

Green stripes with yellow-orange margins extend lengthwise on the front wings. The underside of the body is distinctly shiny and metallic green or gold. Adults fly like “dive bombers” over turfgrass for several weeks in mid-summer. The green June beetle has a one-year life cycle, and overwinters as a mature larva (grub). Adults emerge in late-June and are active during the day, resting at night on plants or in thatch. The adults produce a sound that resembles that of bumble bees.  Adults will feed on ripening fruits (Figure 2) and may occasionally feed on plant leaves.

Fig 2: Adult green June beetle feeding on fruit.
Fig 2: Adult green June beetle feeding on fruit.

The male beetles swarm in the morning, “dive bombing” to-and-fro above the turfgrass searching for females that are located in the turfgrass (they are desperately seeking a mate. Females emit a pheromone that attracts males. Eventually, clusters of beetles will be present on the surface of the soil or turfgrass with several males attempting to mate with a single female (I think this qualifies as an “insect orgy.” Mated females that have survived the experience lay a cluster of 10 to 30 eggs into moist soil that contains an abundance of organic matter. Eggs hatch in about 2 weeks in early August and the young larvae feed near the soil surface. The larvae feed primarily on organic matter including thatch and grass-clippings; preferring soils that are excessive moist. Larvae are 3/8 (early instars) to 1.5 (later instars) inches in length, and exhibit a strange behavioral trait—they crawl on their back (Figure 3) because that they have a constant itch.

Fig 3: Larva (grub) of green June beetle crawling on its back.
Fig 3: Larva (grub) of green June beetle crawling on its back.

 

Honey Bees and Bumble Bees: What Is The Difference?

—by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Honey bees and bumble bees are important pollinators of many horticultural crops including vegetables, and ornamental plants in gardens and landscapes. As the weather warms, both pollinators will become more active visiting the flowers of plants in bloom. However, how different are honey bees and bumble bees?

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There are a number of behavioral differences associated with honey bees and bumble bees that are presented below:

  1. Bumble bees are more active at lower temperatures (40°F) whereas honey bees are primarily active when temperatures are around 60°F or higher.
  2. Bumble bees are active on cloudy and rainy days. Honey bees are less active at low light intensities.
  3. Bumble bees “buzz pollinate” flowers so only a single bumble bee is required for pollination whereas up to 7 honey bees may be needed to pollinate a flower.
  4. Bumble bees forage for pollen instead of nectar. They are also more efficient pollinators than honey bees because they visit more flowers in a designated time period (e.g., minute).
  5. Bumble bees are present longer during the day (early morning and late evening) than honey bees, which means they may be more susceptible to exposure from pesticide applications.

It is important to protect honey bees and bumble bees from exposure to pesticides including insecticides and fungicides. So, when using pesticides be sure to adhere to the following:

  1. Use pesticides according to the label (ALWAYS READ THE LABEL DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY).
  2. Apply pesticides when both honey bees and bumble bees are less active (early morning and later evening).
  3. Apply more selective pesticides such as Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (sold as Dipel), which is only active on caterpillars.
  4. “Bee-Careful” when applying any pesticides. For example, avoid directly applying pesticides to open flowers that may be visited by honey bees or bumble bees.

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