Calling all the green thumbs out there, we know you’ve probably been the victim of a few June bugs here and there. We know your pain, and we want to help you fix it — and fast.
While June bugs help out the environment in so many ways, we all know that they can be a real pest in your backyard.
Let’s start by breaking down what a June bug is, what it looks like and what its life cycle is. Then we want to talk about what it eats and where it lives.
What Is a June Bug?
Knowing everything you can about June bugs will help you understand them and appreciate their environmental contribution, but still, help them find somewhere else to live.
June bugs are brown flying insects that can also appear in a rust-like color or black. Some can be a bright, iridescent green to blue color. They belong to a bigger group of beetles known as scarabs. There aren’t any discernible spots or stripes on their wings or outer shell, but they can be hairy underneath their wings.
June bugs are nocturnal beetles. They only fly around at night and are attracted to light sources. They are very clumsy flyers and walkers. So, if you’ve ever been enjoying a campfire or sitting outside in the light, you may have had one or two fly directly into you before bouncing off and flying away.
Female June bugs will mate and then lay their eggs underground, which have a white c-shape to them. Once hatched, they are known as grubs, and they will live underground for up to four years. These young beetles have brown heads and three legs. Grubs will live off of foliage and shrubs while they grow.
Once fully grown, June bugs will live underground until the spring, when they will finally emerge to take flight. Once mobile, they will fly around to find a mate and lay eggs to start the process over again.
While they can be a nuisance to humans, the June bug doesn’t bite or harm people in any way. June bugs live solely off of plant leaves and flowers, and grubs will eat decaying or dying plant life that falls to the ground.
This is what causes the largest nuisance to humans. While one or two may not be an issue, a large group of June bugs can decimate a garden, from the potted plants down to the grass.
June bugs live the first four years of their lives underground as grubs. After this, June bugs will fly away, scouting for new homes. They typically enjoy warmer climates and are most notably present in areas of North America, Europe, and Asia.
In your backyard, June bugs will create homes in the thick, long grass. They still create nests and homes on the ground but live above the ground for the remainder of their lives.
Why They’re Important
June bugs play an important role in the ecosystem. While they may damage your shrubs and grasses, these insects are packed full of all the nutrients from these plants they’ve made a meal from. So yes, people can and do eat them.
Even if you aren’t inclined to sprinkle June bugs on your salad, those little guys fly around and become meals for other insects and animals. When this happens, those other species that consume the June bugs and grubs get a nutritious and delicious meal.
Do June Bugs Bite Humans?
Thankfully, June bugs don’t bite humans. We don’t have to worry about physical harm from June bugs, but the outdoor landscaping around your home can take a hit from these pests.
The only physical issue with June bugs can be the annoyance from them while they’re flying, as they are clumsy enough that they will run right into you and bounce off while they’re trying to get around.
When June Bugs Can Be a Problem
June bugs may not bite us, cause physical harm, or carry diseases, but they can still be an issue. Here are a few ways that June bugs can create issues in our daily lives.
Trees and Shrubs
June bugs, once they’re able to take flight, can go searching for those yummy flowers and shrubs that they love. Once they find a food source that they enjoy, June bugs will eat it till it’s gone.
Expect that an infestation of June bugs in your backyard will mean that shrubs will be eaten, and you’ll be left with plants that can’t survive. You may start to notice that they’re around when the leaves of your shrubs and flowers are full of holes and are starting to turn brown.
When June bugs find a backyard they love, they will nest and breed in the area. This means that they’re more than likely to lay eggs in your backyard, and your backyard will be overrun with grubs soon.
Grubs will live in your ground and backyard for up to four years, which means their primary food source will be the grass in your yard. These young pests have the capability to ruin your grass and soil, leaving your backyard bare or, at the very least sparse.
Predators They Bring
In addition to the decimation of your shrubs and greenery, June bugs bring another issue: predators. Their natural predators are birds, but their other enemies include wasps, snakes, certain large spiders, and varmints.
These will bring more issues than just the damage the June bugs can do. It will become an issue for you as they will not only be attracted to the area, but they will linger. Since the June bugs are attracted to your backyard, you can guess where these predators will linger the most.
How To Get Rid of June Bugs
Now we may understand what the issue is with June bugs and why we can’t allow them to set up shop in our yards, but how do we get rid of them? More importantly, how do we get rid of them safely, effectively, and, most importantly, naturally?
The remedies for June bugs will get rid of both grubs and adult June bugs, but to keep the infestation and landscaping problems to a minimum, you’ll want to target the grubs first. Start by using whatever method you prefer on the lawn and soil first to keep the grubs from living long on the ground.
You’ll need to get rid of adults next, and there are two methods that you can utilize to do this. First, you can remove them with your hands. You’ll need gardener’s gloves, but once you notice that they’ve been making a meal of your shrubs, hang out in the backyard and find them when they’re having a meal.
Simply pick them up with your gloved hands and toss them into a cup or bucket of soapy water. They will drown quickly in the water, so it’s the most humane way to get rid of them.
The other option is to make traps. Instead of soapy water, create a simple syrup using water and molasses and add it to shallow cups or buckets. Bury them in a shallow hole in the ground near their favorite shrubs or plants. Create an opening in the bucket and leave it near the leaves they’ve been feeding on, and they will fall into the bucket when they come back for a meal.
Just like the soapy water, June bugs will drown in the sugar water quickly as they won’t be able to fly out of the bucket once they are in it.
Be careful with open, standing water — this can attract mosquitoes.
We like to keep things as natural as possible, and essential oils are the perfect way to repel insects and pests without harming your home, family, or the environment. Indigenous peoples have used these oils and their various qualities for hundreds of years, and these tools are still in use today. Meaning that not only are they around for the long haul, they’re effective.
Scents like citronella, basil, lavender, and thyme are some of the top scents that will repel various insects, including June bugs. Dilute the essential oils in your preferred carrying oil, and then add them to a warm soapy water solution. Spray these around your landscaping; it won’t hurt the shrubs but it will deter June bugs from breeding in your grass or feeding on your plants.
Bring In Predators
If you don’t want to grab June bugs by hand or deal with disposing of them after they drown, you can also encourage certain predators to come into your area. We may not want skunks, snakes, or tarantulas invading our backyards, but welcoming birds into the area is a great idea.
June bugs are a delicious and nutritious meal for birds, and having more birds in our backyards is a welcome idea for all nature lovers. You can encourage birds into your backyard by adding a bird feeder to the landscape.
Not only will it create a nice vibe and energy in the backyard, but birds will be grateful for the refreshing stop on their journeys elsewhere. June bugs will be discouraged from coming near your backyard, knowing what fate lies there. But, even if they do come around, there will be plenty of birds around that will enjoy this delivery meal.
Another great all-natural repellent for your backyard that will repel June bugs is garlic. Many varieties of insects are turned off by the scents of garlic and will avoid it at all costs. You can crush cloves of garlic and leave them near shrubs that have been having issues with June bugs.
You can also plant them in a shallow hole so as to avoid them moving or being blown away by the wind. You can also create a garlic-infused olive oil and spray it on shrubs and around trees and in the grass.
June bugs will be disgusted by the smell of the garlic, and you won’t have to worry about them coming to your house to feed on your foliage.
The Truth About Some Pesticides
Many sites that you search out for ways to repel June bugs will suggest pesticides or insecticides that you can spray all over your yard. But the truth is no matter how safe they claim these to be, they just aren’t.
Many pesticides have been removed from the market over the years. These products, like DDT, were once considered safe but were found to be seriously detrimental to the environment and human health. This is the risk we take every time we use these chemical insect repellants, and as parents, we know that this risk isn’t something we can take.
The Bottom Line
With a little practice and luck, these tips and tricks on how to get rid of June bugs effectively can keep your lawn and garden thriving and green for years to come. These insects play a critical role in our ecosystem, but that doesn’t mean we need to let them decimate our gardens to keep their status.
We want to do whatever we can to take all-natural and safe steps to keep June bugs out of our yards. The minute we utilize chemicals, we start to run risks that our families and the environment could pay the price for, and that’s never the goal.