Scarab Beetles

Austin is a college town and each fall thousands of naive young people move here. Austin also promotes a kind of alcohol tourism masquerading as a music scene. Combine the two phenomena and the results can be … dramatic.

I did not expect to see something similar happen in my own backyard with wildlife but for the past two weeks we’ve been bombarded with fig beetles. They could be green June bugs. Even the people at Bugguide didn’t really try to parse it out. Take your pick but from now on I am going to call them freshman beetles.

scarab cotinis
Cotinis something-or-other

They bumble into the yard. Very loudly and with a sputtering buzz buzz pfifft. They are adorably boisterous, literally bouncing off the walls. Or tree trunks. Or me. They could simply be terrible at flying but I am guessing they might be drunk on fermenting fruit.

Hold the pesticides! They aren’t pests even if they do look an awful lot like Japanese beetles. Yes. You might see them devouring the Mexican plums but the situation isn’t as bad as it looks. Fig beetles exploit holes already pecked open by birds; their weak mandibles aren’t responsible for the initial cut. They are eating away at stuff that nobody would harvest anyway.

cotinis belly
The underbelly of the beast. Is it praying? Hungover? I found it in a cup! When I flipped the beetle over it burrowed into the mulch the way some people crawl into bed after a long night.

They are absolutely new to our property. Some variable is shifting here. I have to wonder if it is connected to the missing wasps. The wasps left, the bees moved in and now these guys appear. I don’t have any fruit ripening at the moment but I just laid out some fresh mulch. I think they are looking for places to lay eggs. The larvae like to eat decaying matter. I am so glad they found the welcome mat.

First honey bees and now scarabs. I really do feel like the ancient Egyptian gods are trying to get our attention!