Figeater Beetle (Cotinis mutabilis)

Figeater Beetle (Cotinis mutabilis)

We have been seeing a number of these beetles around the house over the past few weeks. They are just gorgeous with super shiny green metallic undersides and copper-green wings.

As seen in this picture, the beetles don’t bite and are quite handle-able. They are easy to care for and have a habit of “going to ground” when kept in captivity. It takes 10 minutes or so for them to “wake up” when taken out of its cage.

It can fly, though isn’t terribly coordinated about it.

Roger is now gathering the larvae in hopes that we can raise a whole herd of the things.

Figeater Beetle (Cotinis mutabilis)

A bit of research revealed that it is a Figeater Beetle (Cotinis mutabilis). It also known as a June Bug, but that name I reserve for the annoying little brown bugs that flit about in a generally annoying fashion. The adult figeater beetle primarily feed on rotten or over-mature fruit while the larva tend to live in compost heaps and the like. In other words, definitely not a pest species.

This also makes it quite easy to feed. Have a peach going bad? Or a tomato? Feed it to the beetle.

As soon as I build my lightbox, I’m going to put one in the freezer long enough to slow it down a bit and then try to get some interesting macro shots.

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7 Responses to “Figeater Beetle (Cotinis mutabilis)”

  1. Andy Finnell says:

    We had those bugs when I was growing up in southeast Tennessee, but we always called them June bugs. I assume that’s because that’s when they come out.

    Anyway, they provided hours of fun for me and my brothers because they were easy to catch (and didn’t sting or bite). You could tie a string around their leg and “walk” them. And of course it was always fun to watch the cats chase after them, and then hack them up later on the good rug.

    Ah, the memories.

  2. Woody says:

    June bugs! When I was a kid, they were everywhere. We had a huge fig tree not too far from the house, and there were always plenty of June bugs feeding on fallen fruit. Later, the fig trees Dad planted in the yard were our source of insect-y amusement. Sadly, though the fig trees are still here, the June bugs are very scarce. Seems like the pesticides used by farmers here in rural south Georgia have really hurt the population. But over the last couple of years, it seems like there have been a few more than in previous years. Maybe newer insecticides are not so bad on them any more.

    You mentioned putting one of the bugs in the freezer to slow it down. My younger brother actually did a pretty decent “cryogenics” experiment to see just how long he could keep one in a freezer and later revive it. He got to a couple of hours before he stopped. That last one took a while to “wake up”, and he didn’t want to kill one. I honestly don’t recall us ever killing one. We’d play with it a while, and finally let it fly away.

    Yes, they are beautiful insects, and completely harmless. We, like Andy mentioned, used to tie a string on one, but we didn’t just walk them. We flew them. I laugh now remembering of one of my brothers standing in the yard, a June bug buzzing in circles over his head as he held the other end of the string.

    Thanks for helping me recall some blissful childhood moments.

  3. Dad says:

    u r bugging me out

  4. Maria Acosta says:

    When I read that other people tied thread to them and flew them around, I didn’t think anyone else did that. I grew up in L.A. and I didn’t see too many of these bugs. My (adopted) grandmother had a fig tree in her yard; glorious fruit I remember. At the time I did not know what a blessing that fruit really was until afterwards that I have tried in vain to locate a store that sells fresh figs. That was in the 70’s. My grandmother’s house was built in the 1920’s.

    So my mother grew up in Mexico and when we were younger, she taught us not to fear them and to try and catch them. Once she did, she showed us how to attach them to strings and then flew them around. I also do not recall one single time I have killed one of them and actually feel bad whenever I see a dead one on the ground. Yes we had fun when we were small and now I want to teach my kids to do the same thing. They have gotten to the point of being able to handle them without fear, but I think it’s the way their hard, little legs feel on your palms. I think they think they may bite them. It’s nice to hear that they are harmless and actually very useful. I will be on the look out for them and see if I see any more than the usually amount I see yearly.

    And thanks for the info about them.

  5. Luca says:

    Oh boy, they’re definitely not a pest? I live in SoCal and have a fig tree in the backyard. Come July there is a swarm of these beetles taking over the tree and eating it clean. The moment a fig is somewhat ripe I need to harvest it or it’ll be gone the next day. If I want figs I have to check every single day if there’s one I can steal from the beetles. Also, composting without nematodes is completely impossible with figeater beetles in your yard. The first couple of seasons I covered the compost pile before figeater beetle mating season and they still found a way into my pile. I have hundreds of 2inch grubs in my compost. Picking them out of the dirt one by one took hours. Now I let nematodes take care of the grubs.

  6. Samantha says:

    I am now terrified of these things. One got itself caught in my hair a few weeks ago and I had no idea what it was. I just knew it was a decently sized, unknown bug that was clinging for dear life to a chunk of my hair and didn’t want to come out. It was terrifying. They are everywhere In the University I attend and now I’m always walking around campus holding my hair to the side so they don’t get themselves caught again.

  7. Sue says:

    Luca – I live in So. California and have the same problem with the fig beetle larva. The skunks and possums and the racoons are destroying my yard and my vegetable garden – they raid my yard every night digging holes everywhere. What type of nematode did you order???

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