Friday, July 22, 2011

June bug in July

Coming home through Crescent Beach, we saw a sign, "Plant Sale", at the entrance to a shaded driveway. We had to stop, of course.

It was a private house; in front of the porch, flowers and shrubs stood in rows of black pots. Laurie wanted something for shade, not too tall, not too wide, evergreen. The gardener was happy to show him around suggesting one, then another, then another, describing their growth pattern, their care. I asked about deep shade gardens; "Come and see," she said, and led us around the house and down steps to her back garden, under tall pines. Here, hostas and ferns grew luxuriantly, in many shades, from glowing yellow-green, to ghostly white, to almost blue. But I was surprised to see many flowers that I would never have expected to bloom in shade. She picked a handful of seeds for me. "Let them dry, then sprinkle them around," she told me.

We returned along a sunny lawn bordered by fruit trees and shrubs, arriving at a potting shed, and then her private sitting area, where she found a pink astilbe for me, some flowering hostas for Laurie. Back at the driveway, we loaded the trunk and back seat with more plants (a winter camellia, among them), and said our goodbyes and thank yous. We'll be back.

At home, we chose sites for the plants; I put the astilbe directly into the shade garden. The others will wait until we remove a few more roots.

An hour later, Laurie went out to the garden again, then came running to me with a handful of struggling bug:

Male Ten-lined June beetle, Polyphilla decemlineata. 3 cm. long. (1 1/4 inches)

We don't have those here; they live near fruit trees. The adults become active on summer evenings, so this guy must have come with the plants we brought home, sleeping in a pot. At dusk, he woke up, just in time for Laurie to find him.

He has the prettiest fur vest, elegant striped "pants", buggy eyes, and amazing antennae.

A close look at one antenna. (Looks sort of like the sole of a high-heeled shoe.) The males have these; the female's antennae are smaller.

Once I'd cooled the beetle down, he was docile, but responsive. When I tickled one side with a paintbrush, he would tip the other way, looking like a tipsy canoe. I tickled the opposite side, and he tipped the other way. He didn't mind the brush at his rear, but when I touched those antennae, which he had been waving about, he folded them tightly, and tucked them away under his chin. He kept them hidden for several minutes.

Eventually, he decided he'd had enough of that, and started to walk away, slowly. I put him in a safe jar for the night, and left him outside. But not before I took a couple more photos.

Spines, hair, and scales on the thorax. I love the rich colours.

Decoration of the yellow and white lines on the elytra. (Wing covers)

These beetles are sometimes a pest in fruit orchards. The larvae live from 2 to 4 years, eating the roots of the trees. A large infestation can weaken or kill a tree. They pupate in the soil, then the adults emerge in June or July. The female may stay close to home, but the male goes off in search of a female; he has until the cold weather comes in the fall to find her and mate. She will lay her eggs, about 60 of them, in the soil at the root of the chosen tree; they will hatch in a month, and start the long cycle again.

The adults eat leaves, but don't do much damage. Once I'd determined that, I let my daddy June beetle go; he waited around until dark, then left. He may not find a female around here, but if he does, they're not likely to find fruit trees, so they won't be a problem.


  1. what a gorgeous bug! How wonderful that you guys not only found it, but were able to photograph it and document what it was. And what wonderfully crisp and detailed photos!!! Wow.

  2. I love the second picture and its description.

  3. What an amazing bug! It's so neat to be able to see him up close like that.

  4. Anonymous11:30 pm

    I found one outside my work in august.
    it was just chilling under the open sign.

  5. One just came into my room and climbed down my shirt scared me pulled him out let go outside few seconds later my sister saw him and stamped him to death


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