Thursday, August 4, 2011

Making Connections

Kevin Firth, a butterfly wrangler and docent for Friends of the Garden allowed me to print this story for our blog.

Green June Beetle - Continis nitida
The Green June Beetle is a large scarab that usually starts to show up about the same time as the more infamous Japanese Beetles that we all know and love.  The Green June Beetle (GJB) is a native though, and generally occurs in much lower concentrations than the invasive Japanese Beetle.  I have seen only a few this year, but several summers ago, we experienced a rather large population of these beautiful scarabs (at least in my backyard).
The GJB is a noisy and not particularly agile flier--they sound like a B52 when on the wing.  I remember trying to mow my lawn one summer as an emergence of these beetles was underway in my backyard and actually being forced to stop and wait for the emergence to end before finishing the task--there were beetles slamming into me from all directions.  

The GJB larvae, like many scarabs, lives in the soil and feeds on the roots of plants, particularly grasses.  At that time, I wasn't sure what they were, and a quick search of Bugguide gave me the answer.
Scolia dubia- Wikimedia
I also noticed, about the same time, a beautiful wasp visiting the flowers in our landscaping.  This turned out to be Scolia dubia  and there was a good reason that I was seeing a bunch of these wasps about the same time that I saw the Green June Beetles.  Scoliid wasps are parasites of scarab beetles, and Scolia dubia specializes in parasitizing the Green June Beetle.  The adult females will dig to find a beetle grub, sting it to paralyze it, and lay a single egg on the grub.

While most of the wasps are observed nectaring on flowers, I have observed these wasps (presumably females) flying low over the yard, landing, and disappearing into the ground.  Editors note:  I would guess that they are leaving their pickles and ice cream nectar to lay a few eggs.


  1. I've only seen one GJB this someone else's yard. By the looks of all our holey fruit tree leaves, we're growing a good crop of the Japanese beetles this year. *sigh* CONGRATS on being named a Blog of Note!

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