So, you need to get rid of fig beetles from eating your fig trees.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn:
- Why fig beetles are eating your fruits
- How to get rid figeater beetles naturally
- Ways to stop them from eating your figs and keep them away
- And a lot more
Feel free to bookmark this page as you may have to refer back to ion your quest to rid them!
And if you have any questions, ask me by leaving a comment.
Sound good? Let’s protect your fig trees.
Last updated: 12/30/19.
What’s a fig beetle?
A fig beetle is a beetle belonging to the scarab beetle family. They’re known for eating the sweet nectar of fruits, petals, and pollen.
Some other names for fig beetles are the figeater beetle, green fruit beetle, crawly backs, or green beetle.
They’re also often confused with June bugs and other beetles because they’re very similar in appearance.
If you’re here, you probably have a fig tree that you’re trying to protect from these pests.
Fig beetles are giant beetles that are about 1.25” when fully matured. The most marking and obvious phenotype is the shiny green shield on its back.
These beetles are able to roll on their backs and also move upside down. The green is shiny and reflects sunlight to a degree. Their legs and stomach area are also coated in the iridescent green coloration.
They have 6 legs and a pair of antennae. The rear underside of the bug is lighter tan or orangish in coloration.
These beetles have a straightforward life cycle. The adult females will lay eggs in compost or mulch. The larvae hatch and eat the nutrients from the incubation material. They’ll approach 2” when fully grown.
The larvae have small and ineffective legs. There are 6 legs in total. They also have a small hair from their body.
Pupation occurs shortly after during the months of July to September. The larvae will then pupate into adult green figeater beetles, which continue to feed and grow.
These beetles are found in the southwest of the United States and often appear during the summertime.
They then mate and repeat the cycle.
Fig beetle vs. Japanese beetles vs. June bugs
They are all different species of beetles and do different amounts of damage. They all have slightly different food preferences and appearance. If you see beetles on your fig tree, they’re most likely figeaters.
You can check out this article on June bugs to see if you can identify the difference and to ensure which pest you’re dealing with.
Why do I have fig beetles?
The main reason is that you have two things in your yard:
- Suitable shade
- Fruits or sweet-smelling nectar
Both of these are reasons why fig beetles may be attracted to your yard. They hang out during the day in places with plenty of shade (trees and bushes).
Because your yard usually provides both of these, there’s no reason why they WOULDN’T be attracted in the first place.
Do fig beetles bite?
Green beetles don’t bite and don’t sting.
They don’t have the mouthparts to pierce human skin. They’re only a threat to your fruits.
Are fig beetles poisonous?
No, they’re not poisonous to humans. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wash your hands after you touch them. Always use gloves and protective equipment.
Always wash your hands afterward. While the beetle may not be clean, beetles do tend to be quite dirty. They crawl on everything so it can transfer bacteria directly through its feet. So wash afterward.
Are fig beetles poisonous to dogs?
Fig beetles can make your dog vomit, get a stomachache, or drool nonstop.
Although the situation is rarely dangerous, it’s still important to refrain your dog from eating green beetles. Seek a vet out if you’re concerned or if the symptoms don’t improve.
When do they come out?
Figeater beetles mainly come out during the day and will fly around to a shaded area in a tree to eat.
They’ll appear in groups. Figeater beetles feed together as they eat and look for mates near breeding areas.
They don’t come out at night unless disturbed, as they’re active during daylight hours (diurnal) pests.
What are green beetles attracted to?
One word: nectar.
These beetles will eat anything that’s sweet, odorous, sap, or nectar. They’ll eat pollen from plants, sap from cactus plants, or fruit from trees.
They’re not picky and will consume whatever is available to them. If you have fig trees or other fruits in your yard, that may be why green beetles are in your yard.
Pretty obvious, right?
What do fig beetles eat?
Figeater beetles will eat fruit and sap. These are the two main sources of food that attract them to your yard. If you have a fruit tree or fig tree, figeater beetles will eat the figs when they’re ripe.
They’re very good at taking out the sap from trees and piercing into fruits to extract nectar.
Adult fig beetles will eat these food sources:
- Organic mulch
- Compost piles
- Grass or plant roots
- Orchard plants
- Overripe fruit
- Sweet food
- Fermenting fruit
- Leaves debris
- Ripening fruit
- Berry patches
They can’t break apart or pierce fruits with tough skins, so they prefer softer fruits. Figs are soft enough for them to pierce and break the skin.
Fruits that are fermenting or overripe emit a smell that attracts them. You may huge swarms of them eating your figs in your garden.
However, even with many of them, they don’t do much damage compared to other beetles.
How to get rid of fig tree beetles
Here are some methods you can use to get rid of these pests. The easiest method is to use repellents to keep them away from your figs in the first place.
You can easily use many different natural repellents that deter fig beetles. We’ll cover them now.
Reduce the availability of food
The only reason why you have these beetles in your yard in the first place is that they’re eating your fruits. If you can control and reduce the number of available plants for them to eat, you’ll have fewer beetles to deal with.
This is what you’re thinking: “how am I supposed to protect my fig tree? I can’t remove it!”
I don’t mean take out the figs. But rather, if you have other fruity plants you don’t need, take ’em out.
Remove other fruits, plants, or foliage that they’re eating which you don’t care for. Get rid of leaf litter. Clean up your grass. Remove any excess plant clippings.
Prune your plants to get rid of their food source. Dispose of compost. Switch to another type of mulch. Don’t use soils with high manure content.
Even if you can’t do all of these, do the ones that you can. This will help remove some of their food and will attract fewer fig beetles to your yard.
Basically, you want to remove anything the beetles are eating as much as you can.
This is especially true for fruits. When the fruit is ripe, pick it. Don’t let it ferment or overridden. This will only attract more pests. Leaving it on the branch will just give them something to eat. Don’t do this. Harvest your fruit ASAP.
After all, you grew the fruits for yourself, not for the beetles, right? So get into a routine and harvest whenever your fruit is ripe.
Or just check daily or every other day. Do something kind of “checking” routine.
Use tree netting
Tree netting can help stop beetles and many other pests and birds from eating your figs. You can buy netting at most hardware stores for cheap in bulk.
Use this a physical barrier and net your fig tree. If you buy a net small enough where pets can’t get through, but still allows the plant to get sun and water, you’re all set.
You can cut out a small portion to get into the net so you can harvest your fruits. You can also use row cover, frost cloth, Remay, or window screen.
Stop future beetles
Adult female beetles will lay eggs that hatch into larvae. During this part of their life cycle, you can try to get other predators to eat the larvae.
They look like white worms (or grubs). Many predators will naturally eat them such as moles, birds (ravens, pigeons, and more), and even skunks.
The trick is to find out where the female adults are laying their eggs and where the eggs are hatching. If you see eggs, you can scrape them off using a paint scraper and then dunking them into rubbing alcohol to kill them. If you see the beetle larvae, you can also scoop them up and drop them into some dish detergent mixed with water.
This will kill the larvae before they ever have a chance to turn into an annoying figeater.
Alternatively, if you know the exact locations where the larvae can be found, consider exposing them to predators such.
Some common areas where you’ll find larvae are:
- Under rocks
- Leaf litter
- Plant clippings
- Compose areas
- Trash receptacles
You can dump them on the floor or into plain sight for other rodents or animals to eat them up.
Churn your mulch
Always turn your mulch constantly to expose small grubs. This will let you attract grub eater to the area to help control the population. The same goes for keeping your yard clean.
Remove clipping from your lawn. Clean up leaf litter. Both of these will help keep the grubs exposed to predators. This is actually a very effective management strategy.
Just like the previous tip, you can manually remove grubs or beetles. Get a container with a few drops of dish detergent mixed with water.
Put on some gloves and manually remove each beetle you come across and toss it into the container. Dispose of the beetles safely.
You can remove them one at a time. This isn’t practical for large figeater populations. But If you just notice them eating your fig trees once in a while, this method works.
You can make a DIY trap at home to catch fig beetles for cheap.
What you’ll need:
- 1-gallon empty milk container
- Window screening
- Superglue or duck tape
How to make it:
- Make a homemade trap by using a 1-gallon milk container and some window screening by funneling the screening into the jug’s mouth.
- You can secure the screen using super glue or tape. Make a funnel shape out of the screening.
- Then add some bait to lure the fig eaters. Use some kind of overripe fruit or just apple juice and water in equal parts.
- Add about 3” of bait to the bottom of the milk jug.
How to use it:
The fig beetles will fly to the funnel because they’re attracted to the scent of the bait. They’ll make their path until they get trapped once they’re inside. They can’t escape because they don’t know how to get out of the trap.
Afterward, you can dispose of them safely by pouring the entire trap into a solution of rubbing alcohol or dish detergent and water.
You can make as many traps you need and place them around your fruit trees to protect them from beetles.
How to control fig beetles
The best way to control them is to use a combination of the manual removal method, grub control, natural predators, and homemade beetle traps.
Using all of them in combination can be an effective measure to get rid of and control future beetles from your yard.
What eats fig beetles?
Green fruit beetles are often preyed upon when they’re in the larvae stage.
After they become adults with hard shells, the number of predators that eats them reduces.
Some areas have predatory wasps that feed on figeater grubs. Skunks and moles also eat grubs.
When they morph, the best way to get rid of them is to use the steps outlined above.
How to keep fig beetles away
There’s no easy way to completely guarantee that the beetles will stay away.
Since they’re attracted to overripe or fermenting fruit, you can’t really do much unless you get rid of the fruits in the first place. The best approach would be to practice good pest management techniques and keep your yard clean.
You can use manual removal, tree netting, and set up traps. This will help deter them from your fig trees.
Here are some additional resources which may be useful for you:
- Managing Green Fruit Beetles – Backyard Gardener
- When Fig Beetles Attack! – NHM
- UC Management Guidelines for Fig Beetle on Fig Beetles – UCANR
- Figeater beetle – Wikipedia
Did you get rid of the fig beetle problem?
By now, you should have everything you need to know to get started on exterminating these pests from your fig trees!
If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Or if you found this pest control guide to be helpful, let me know also =].
Tell a friend who may also have a fig tree. Share it with your fig group. Or just let me know directly!
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.
1 thought on “How to Get Rid of Fig Beetles Naturally (Protect Your Fig Trees!)”
What about milky spore?