Yep, I said it – I found a PRETTY beetle:
Actually, my nieces and nephews found it while I was hosting my mother’s birthday party. We had family and friends in from out of town – and I dropped everything when the kids came to me with this “cool bug.” I grabbed my camera and patiently tried to snap shots while they all had their turn looking at it.
None of the kids wanted to hold or touch the beetle, so the poor thing had to cling to a stick while being passed around for looks. Did *I* touch the beetle? No…I was taking the pictures. Yeah, that’s why I didn’t touch it.
I had no trouble at all identifying this beetle as a Green June Beetle (Cotinis nitida). It is apparently pretty common, not to mention unwelcome. As larvae, they eat plant and grass roots, and as adults, they eat plant foliage, flowers, and fruit. I have “gone native” with new plant choices, and I don’t use pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. It doesn’t worry me to have this beetle around because I have no prized, pampered plants that can be destroyed. I DO have a fair amount of non-native plants from before my gardening epiphany, but if for some reason they cannot survive the appetites of the Green June Beetle…I guess I’ll just have to replace them with a native. Oh, darn.
There seems to be some problem amongst the beetle authorities about this beetle’s proper taxonomic name. The source for the beetle info in the link above states that the proper spelling is Cotinis, not Cotinus. Douglas Tallamy, an entomologist and author of a book I have recommended (Bringing Nature Home, 2007), spelled it Cotinus in his book. The source that I found where you can see a picture of the strange larval behavior of crawling on its back, also spells it Cotinus.
Apparently, they sometimes try to crawl on their backs as adults as well.