The adult green fruit beetle measures almost 1-1/4-inch (20-34 mm). Its body is a drab green color bordered in yellow or brown from above and bright iridescent green from below. Often confused with the much smaller and destructive Japanese beetle, the figeater causes little economic damage and is not controlled in California.
Range and Habitat
From early summer through fall, the erratic and clumsy flight of this large green beetle can be seen throughout San Diego County. Not common 30 years ago, the beetles have since become very abundant, primarily due to the increased popularity of organic gardening. The beetles deposit their eggs during the fall in decaying plant material, especially in manure and backyard compost heaps.
The larval grubs feed on the organic material and develop quickly. Heat given off by the compost allows the grubs to remain active the entire year. When their feeding is disturbed, the grubs roll over on their backs and inch away, using their body segments, not legs, for traction. During the spring, underground chambers are formed by the grubs in which to pupate. Winged adults emerge a few months later.
The figeater can readily eat overripe or bird-damaged figs, peaches, and grapes, but its weak mouthparts are ineffective in ripping open most other plant material. Native plants, including plant pollen and cactus fruit, are rarely damaged initially by the beetles; they usually are found taking advantage of damage done by other insects.