Western Green June Bug

June Bugs are Flying, Got String?

One of our staff caught this Western Green June Bug (Cotinus mutabilis) in her California garden and brought it in. This started a discussion of weird things to do with large live beetles. Abby said her brother and his friends would catch a June Bug and tie a string around its leg, then toss it in the air. It would buzz around and around. (In flight, they make a very loud sound and have the wingspan of a small hummingbird.) Evidently, June bugs on string has been a pastime of children for years. (Somehow I missed out.)

The other unusual thing to do with live beetles is to wear them as jewelry. This practice goes back to the Mayan civilization and the maquech beetle. To this day, in the Mexican state of Yucatán, the Maquech beetle is bedazzled and attached to a safety pin by a chain leash. (Note to self: not a good idea for Mom’s birthday.)

We doubt that this particular green June bug was in search of glue and glitter, so what was it doing in the garden? This garden lacked fruit and vegetables–the main food stuffs of June bug beetles. It’s likely that this bug was preparing to burrow and lay eggs. After the eggs hatch, they feast on the roots of ornamental plants and, in this garden, the roots of a magnolia tree. How do we know? Last spring, the same person brought in a grub that was eating the roots of the magnolia.

June Beetle Grub

Yes, this is the larvae of the June bug. And below is the underside of a green June bug.

Cotinus mutabilis-undersideSometimes it’s a fine line between being repulsed and fascinated.

Have you heard of either June bugs on a string or bejewled mequech beetles? Please comment.