Discover Nature: June Bugs

Apr 25, 2017

June bugs, more accurately known as May beetles are emerging in Missouri this week. Listen and watch for their clumsy crash landings on windows, doors, and porch lights.
Credit MDC Forest Pathologist Simeon Wright

Late spring evenings often bring the sound of buzzing and crashing at windows, doors, and porch lights. This week on Discover Nature, we’ll take a closer look at June bugs reappearing in Missouri.

Also known as May beetles, June bugs are usually brown, rusty, or black, and have hairy undersides. They are nocturnal and are attracted to lights at night, clumsily walking, flying, and crash-landing.

June bugs belong to a large family of beetles called scarabs – with stout, oval bodies, clubbed antennae, and segments that can press tightly together as armor, or fan open like a feather.

These beetles begin life as white grubs, living underground for one to four years. At maturity, they emerge in late spring to fly, mate, and lay eggs.

May beetles cannot hurt humans, but, in large numbers, can cause damage to lawns and crops. However, crop rotation, strategic plowing, and nature’s own controls can prevent annual infestations.

June bugs provide an important food source for skunks, moles, birds, and frogs, and the grubs are famous as free, live fishing bait, plentiful in the spring.

Learn more about June bugs and keep up with other spring changes in Missouri with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.