June Bug: Facts & Life Cycle

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  • 0:05 A Common Name
  • 0:54 June Bug Life Cycle
  • 1:12 Eggs and Grubs
  • 2:06 Growing to Adulthood
  • 3:04 Interesting Facts
  • 3:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lauren Posey

Lauren has taught intermediate reading in an English Language Institute, and she has her Master's degree in Linguistics.

In this lesson, you'll learn more about the brown beetles that seem to appear all over the place in May and June. We'll look at the life cycle of June bugs, as well as some interesting facts.

A Common Name

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you may be familiar with the small reddish-brown or black beetles. Their common name is the June bug and they seem to suddenly be everywhere in the late spring and early summer. They're attracted to light, so they can be found flying into porch lights or running into windows and screens. In fact, they're not very graceful flyers and can be seen running into just about anything. They're also sometimes called May beetles, and both names refer to the time of year the beetles are most common.

The term June bug or May beetle actually refers to around 300 very similar species of beetle that all belong to the genus Phyllophaga. They're about half an inch to one inch long, and they have the hard outer shells common to all beetles. Their wings fold underneath this hard shell when they land.

June Bug Life Cycle

The life cycle of a June bug can take one to three years to complete, depending on the species. Many species' life cycles last three years. The life cycle as a whole looks like this:

Egg » Larva » Pupa » Adult

Eggs and Grubs

Adult June bugs mate and lay eggs in May and June, which are their most active months. A female might lay anywhere from 50 to 200 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch after about two and a half weeks, which means they're hatching during summer when food is most abundant.

The larvae, the juvenile stage of June bug after hatching from the egg, look like small white caterpillars with brown heads. They're often referred to as grubs. Grubs hatch underground and spend this stage of their life under the soil eating plant roots. June bug larvae can grow to be about an inch long.

Grubs can be a serious problem for farmers or gardeners. Eating the roots damages plants and can even kill small plants. Plants that are being affected by grubs look like they aren't being watered enough. The plants turn yellowish and dry out because the roots can no longer bring up enough water and nutrients from the soil.

Growing to Adulthood

During the larval portion of their life cycle, June bugs go through three separate instars, or stages. These stages are marked by the grub molting, or shedding its outer skin after growing a new one underneath. This is how the grub gets bigger, and it typically happens over the course of two years, depending on the life cycle length of the species. At the end of summer during its final instar, the grub digs deep into the soil so it is protected from cold weather.

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