June Beetles

Daniel A. Potter and David W. Held

University of Kentucky

June beetles, sometimes called May beetles or june bugs, are heavy-bodied, brownish, plant-feeding scarab beetles (Fig. 1A). Almost all species are nocturnal in their habits. The adults are voracious feeders on leaves of many deciduous trees, shrubs, and some herbaceous plants. Their larvae, called white grubs, develop in the soil, where they feed on plant roots and can be pests of turf and pasture grasses, young nursery stock, corn, small grains, potatoes, strawberries, and other agricultural crops.

June beetles belong to the genus Phyllophaga (formerly Lactosterna) in the family Scarabaeidae, subfamily Melolonthinae. They occur in both the New and Old Worlds. In North America north of Mexico about 200 species are known, with many found in the north-central and eastern United States. They also have been reported from South and Central America, the West Indies, eastern and southern Asia, and the islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

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