June Bugs are not poisonous. Nor do they bite or sting. These seasonal bugs are annoying, but they’re largely harmless to humans and animals.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for your lawn. Adult June Bugs burrow into the soil to lay their eggs, and the resultant larvae feast on plant roots for the next two years. This can leave you with stunted plants and a patchy lawn which, if you have an annual outbreak of June Bugs, can ruin the aesthetic of your backyard.
What are June Bugs, and why are they called June Bugs?
You might think that the June Bug is a single type of pesky beetle, but you’d be wrong! The name actually refers to any one of the 900 beetle species that make up the Phyllophaga genus, whose members can be found all over the world.
Also known as June Beetles or May Beetles, June Bugs are so-called because of the time of year they typically appear.
June Bug larvae spend their first two years underground, during which they use a pair of sharp mandibles to feast on plant roots. They begin pupating in late summer or early fall of their second year, and the adult beetles finally emerge from the soil in late May and early June. The adult beetles survive for less than one year – just enough time for them to mate, and for the females to burrow down into the soil and lay more eggs.
For anyone with an invasion on their hands, the big question is: are June Beetles dangerous?
Do June Bugs bite or sting?
June Bugs have been known to chew holes in the leaves of ornamental plants, and the larvae can cause extensive root damage.
However, they do not bite or sting and are very unlikely to cause any harm to you or your pets.
Are June Bugs poisonous to dogs?
Dogs often take a lively interest in June Bugs, and may even eat a few. If you do see your pup crunching up a beetle, don’t panic! The occasional June Bug won’t do them any harm – think of them as protein-rich treats.
However, if your dog eats a lot of June Bugs, this can lead to gastrointestinal issues like:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
If you have a lot of June Bugs in your back yard, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your pooch until they’ve dispersed. If your dog ingests a lot of bugs and seems to be suffering, call a vet for advice.
Are June Bugs poisonous to humans?
June Bugs don’t bite, sting, or emit any toxins and aren’t poisonous to humans. However, consuming them in large quantities may cause stomach ache.
Damage caused by June Bugs
Adult June Bugs will sometimes chew on the foliage of various trees, shrubs, and other plants, but the real damage is caused when they go to lay their eggs.
Because they burrow down into the soil to do this, they can seriously damage your lawn. Things only get worse when the larvae hatch, as the grubs feed on the roots of plants. This makes it hard for affected plants to draw water and nutrients from the soil, causing a steady decline in health. Smaller plants may even be killed by June Bug larvae, though plants with larger roots have a better chance of riding out the damage.
Other signs of June Bug larvae damage include:
- Large, brown, or bald patches appearing on your lawn.
- Small tunnels in the surface of your lawn.
- Dead turf that separates easily from the soil.
- Yellowing and/or wilting of plant foliage.
- Stunting of plants.
How to control June Bugs
June Bug control often isn’t necessary, as outbreaks of the beetles tend to be localized.
If you have a history of June Bug invasions, however, you might need to take steps to preserve the health of your lawn and plants.
Cultivate a healthy garden
You may be able to mitigate June Bug damage by cultivating a healthy lawn and garden. This can help to mask the damage caused by the adults and grubs and can help to encourage plant recovery. Make sure your garden is well irrigated and fertilized so your plants have a fighting chance against the bugs when they arrive.
Use natural predators
If your June Bug situation seems to get worse every year, you might consider using natural predators to reduce their numbers.
Nematodes (a type of microscopic, parasitic worm) prey on June Bug grubs, killing them off before they reach the adult phase of their lifecycle and, hopefully, before they cause too much damage to your lawn.
There are two main species of insect-parasitizing nematodes (Steinernema and Heterorhabditis) which can be widely bought online and in garden centers. Remember to always read the label directions carefully before applying the treatment.
If all else fails, there are insecticidal treatments available to kill all the grubs in your garden. These can be applied either at the beginning or at the end of summer and are often contact killers, which effectively wipe out every larva they reach.
Unfortunately, insecticidal products are often toxic and potentially harmful to you, your pets, and everything else they touch. Not only will they kill grubs, but they’re also likely to eradicate beneficial species (like earthworms) and may also poison birds, aquatic critters, and pollinators in your backyard.
So, are June Bugs harmful? Absolutely not – unless, of course, you happen to be a plant.
June Bugs don’t bite, sting, or emit toxins, so they’re very unlikely to hurt you or your pets. They can, however, do some serious damage to your lawn.
Adult June Bugs burrow through turf to lay their eggs, and their larvae feast on plant roots in the soil, causing wilting, stunting, and even early plant death.
If your garden suffers from an annual June Bug explosion, you may have to take steps to manage the situation and protect your plants. Cultivating a healthy garden can encourage recovery and help to mask damage, or you can unleash parasitic nematodes onto your lawn to help kill off the grubs.