It’s monsoon season in Arizona… For humans that means rain, wind, and lots of dust. But for many insects and other arthropods, this is a time of life-giving water and reproduction. Here is a quick synopsis of just a few amazing critters who are active by the features of this season.

PALO VERDE ROOT BORER BEETLE

If you live in the Sonoran desert for any period of time, you’ll likely encounter this beetle. It is found throughout the major metropolitan areas of Tucson and Phoenix, as well as from Texas to southern California and northern Mexico. The larvae are an impressive 4-5 inches long, and take up to three years to mature; however, you’re not likely to see the larvae unless you dig up a host tree on whose roots they are feeding.

Following metamorphosis in the soil, adult beetles emerge and dig their way out around late June. Adults measure slightly shorter than the larvae at 3½ inches long. They are attracted to urban lights in the early evening hours and their dark, large forms can be seen flying around lights or resting on walls nearby. Their body is somewhat flat and elongated such that sometimes they are mistaken for American cockroaches.

Before the monsoon season ends, mated females will return to their emergence holes or dig new ones and lay their eggs. Although the damage to trees from larvae feeding is typically insignificant, you can discourage the female beetles from ovipositing (egg-laying) by placing wire mesh at the base of susceptible trees and shrubs, the most common of which include: Mexican palo verde, elm, olive, rose, and privet. Properly watering and fertilizing susceptible vegetation will keep it healthy and minimize damage from larvae.

Minimizing outside lights may help to discourage visits from adults. They may bite if handled improperly, but otherwise pose no threat. These large, amazing beetles emerge for only a short time. Watch them… and enjoy!

Fig Beetles

Fig Beetles are the jewels of monsoon season.  These beautiful, thick-bodied beetles are an insect version of a grazing cow.  As recyclers of nature’s plant materials, Fig beetles favor soft fruit (figs, peaches, etc.) and sap.  Adults may be found in clusters on fruit or at a tree weep during daytime hours. The white larvae are common in compost piles where they play a helpful role in breaking down detritus. Fig beetles reach up to 2 inches long, and can be easily identified by their green exoskeleton and a narrow yellow margin along the base of both sides. Fig Beetle adults are common during Arizona’s monsoon season (July to September).

 

For more information reguarding Fig beetles visit the University of Arizona at http://ag.arizona.edu/ento/index.htm