Several grapevine beetles have visited my porch lights recently, so now is probably a good time to feature the species.

The grapevine beetle is part of the scarab beetle family and is related to “June bugs.” And on that note, I will feature June bugs in the future, but as there are many, many different species, more than one column may be in order.

And, like June bugs, grapevine beetles are attracted to lights in early summer, but are less common.

Grapevine beetles are harmless to humans and can actually be kept as pets. However, they have claws that are like little fishhooks and should be handled gently.

When I handle these bugs, I often let them crawl off of my hand, rather than trying to pull them off as they cling so tightly.

Also, I would recommend having proper housing and knowledge of the insect before attempting to keep one as a pet.

Appearance

The grapevine beetle is almost egg-shaped and can grow to about one inch in length, although some can be a little longer.

They range in color from cream to burnt orange or saffron.

Grapevine beetles have one black spot on each side of the thorax (the section just

behind the head), and three black spots on each elytron (wing cover), for a total of eight black spots (photo).

Now here is something interesting, at least to me anyway. The legs of the grapevine beetles in my photos are a saffron color. This is a southern variation. With the northern variation, grapevine beetles have dark, metallic green legs.

Habitat and feeding

Habitat includes woods, thickets and vineyards. Adults fly from May to September. They feed on the leaves of grapevines, both wild and agricultural. Entomologists do not consider them significant pests as they do not have a serious impact on a vine’s health or growth.

Eggs are laid in rotting logs or tree stumps of deciduous trees in the vicinity of grapevines. The larvae — large, white grubs — feed on decaying wood for about two years before pupating and emerging as an adult.

Range

Grapevine beetles can be found from Mexico up through Texas, Oklahoma and north to Canada, then east to the Atlantic coasts of the United States and Canada.

Odds and ends

• Grapevine beetles do not fly straight. They fly in a curved trajectory which can make a loud buzzing sound as they fly.

Hodgepodge

I am including a photo of a wheel bug nymph with this column. I featured the wheel bug back in November, which is about the time that females lay eggs and then die. The eggs hatch in late-March and well into April, and the individual in this photo is how most appear at this time. 

Additionally, I created a video of the birth of wheel bugs, and it can be viewed on my YouTube channel, Randy’s Natural World. If interested, click here to watch the video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxfuayHHfqg.

(Editor’s Note: Randy Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. He has been an avid birdwatcher, nature enthusiast and photographer for more than 40 years. Reach him at rnw@usa.com.)

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