June bug sitting on a leaf

What Are June Bugs? A Comprehensive Guide

June bugs, also referred to as June beetles and May beetles, are from the scarab family of insects. They are attracted to light, so you may find them flying around your porch lights at night. These beetles are not harmful to humans, but they can be a nuisance. If you have a lot of June bugs in your yard, they can damage your plants and garden.

What Is A June Bug?

June bugs are common pests to North America during the months of May, June, and early July. During warm evenings in late spring and early summer, these red-brown beetles are frequently seen and are drawn to bright lights.

Commonly referred to as a June bug or May beetle, genus Phyllophaga, these names actually refer to over 300 similar species of beetle.

The June bug feeds on vegetation and flowers at night, sometimes causing significant damage. The white grubs of the June beetle are about an inch long and live in the dirt. They can destroy crops including corn, minor grains, potatoes, and strawberries by severing grasses from their roots and killing lawns and pastures.

What Does A June Bug Look Like?

June bugs are oval-shaped and have six short legs and long antennae. They are generally between 1/2 to 1 inch in length, and may be green, brown, black or maroon, without any discernible patterns. They have shiny wing covers that are hard and the same color as the beetle.

June bugs have a metallic sheen to their bellies and are generally brown or green. They have two pairs of wings that lie beneath a hard protective shell.

The larvae of June bugs, also known as grubs, are white worms with brown heads and legs. You may see their larvae in the dirt when you’re planting outdoors.

The June Bug Life Cycle

Diagram of the life cycle of a June bug.
The life cycle of a June bug.

The life cycle of a June bug can take up to one to three years to complete, depending on the species. Many species of beetle’s life cycles last up to three years.


Adult June bugs mate and lay eggs in May and June, their most active months. The females lay 50 to 200 eggs in the dirt at a time. The eggs hatch after about two and a half weeks, beginning the next stage in the life cycle.


Larvae is the juvenile stage of the June bug’s life cycle after it has hatched from an egg. During this time, the the larvae live underground consuming grass and roots near the surface.

At this stage the bugs are simply brown-headed white grubs. They go through three instars and molt twice before pupating, with grubs having a voracious appetite.

The June bugs dig deep into the ground during their last larval instar to hibernate and keep themselves warm in the winter. The pupation occurs at this time. Some species mature into pupae within a single year, while others take several years to feed and develop into pupae.


This is the last stage before the June bugs mature into adulthood. The brown pupa June bugs start to change color to metallic green while gradually assuming their adult shape. This stage lasts for three weeks before they fully mature into adults.


Adult June bugs show up later in summer and spring after their three week pupa stge. They’re not harmful to humans or other animals, as they only eat the leaves of oak and walnut trees, amongst other plants’ foliage.

They are, nevertheless, a problem. They are especially bothersome at night when there is light. Female June bugs burrow into the ground and deposit eggs to complete the cycle. Despite their nocturnal nature, most of them die from prolonged exposure to light.

What Are June Bugs Attracted To?

The June Bug is nocturnal, but it is drawn to bright lights. They congregate around security lights, well-lit windows, and porch lights. The overabundance of light is said to occasionally kill the June bug, and they are frequently discovered dead the following day beneath lighting and brightly illuminated windows.

June bugs are inviting to the warmer weather and are attracted to warm locations during the summer. They’re particularly drawn to thick lawns with thatch. Heavily fertilized grasses, in fact, provide an ideal breeding ground for June bug grubs.

Are June Bugs Dangerous?

June bugs are harmless to people and pets. June bugs don’t bite, sting, or spread disease. However, if ingested, they can upset the stomachs of cats and dogs. The only real danger that June bugs pose is to the health of your lawn, trees, shrubs, and garden.

The larvae of June bugs get their nourishment from the roots of plants and grass while the adult beetles eat the leaves.

What Damage Can June Bugs Cause?

  • Dry, bald patches in grass
  • Yellowing or wilting of lawn
  • Kill plants and vegetation

A big enough June bug infestation can also attract larger pests like voles and moles that come to hunt the grub. These will dig into your lawn and garden beds, causing even more damage.

Signs That You Have A June Bug Infestation

There are several telltale indications that you may have a June bug infestation. These red flags can assist you in determining whether or not it’s time to act.

Seeing Large Beetles

Perhaps one of the most apparent indicators of an infestation is seeing the insects for yourself. This might be a sign that you have a population of large flying beetles becoming active after dark during the summer evenings.

Yellow or Brown Patches of Grass

You may start to notice sections of your lawn dying and turning brown as June bug larvae feed underground on roots. You might be able to lift entire areas of brown grass out of the ground with ease.

Mole Issues

Grubs are a favorite food of moles, so if you have grubs in your lawn, you may also begin to see moles. Birds, raccoons, and skunks who feed on grubs might start digging holes in your yard.

Ragged Plants

Adult beetles consume above-ground plants on your property, while grubs stay underground. As a result, you may start to notice leaves with jagged holes and a shredded look.

How to Get Rid of June Bugs and Their Larvae

To keep your lawn from being damaged, follow these precautions to manage the June bug population on your property:

  • Trap the adults: Use a narrow bottle filled with a mixture of water and molasses or other sweet liquid to attract June bugs. When you kill the adults, you limit the number of eggs they produce in your yard.
  • Milky spores: These are soil-dwelling bacteria that kill grubs naturally present in the soil. They’re called “milky grub killers” because when grubs eat them, their insides become milky. This is most effective in warmer climates where the ground remains moist.
  • Beneficial nematodes: These are tiny worms that function similarly to milky spores. When garden pests eat nematodes, they become sick and die. These are most effective in the middle to late summer, when infestations are at their highest.
  • Till your soil: search out damaged areas of your lawn and uproot the soil. Chances are, you’ll find a bunch of fat grubs. Remove them by hand (they make great fishing bait).
  • Commercial pesticides: Pesticides are rarely used to kill June bugs and grubs unless there is a serious infestation. After crops have been harvested is the most effective time to apply pesticides. Typically September is the best month to spray, when grubs are still close to the surface.

If you have a severe June bug issue you may need to contact a pest control expert to take the best course of action.

DIY Homemade June Bug Repellent

The most common is a natural June bug repellent spray consisting of one tablespoon mineral oil, one pint of water, one tablespoon of dish soap, and one minced garlic. The garlic repels the beetles since they despise the odor. To keep them away, spritz this directly on the June bugs or anywhere they may be found.

Do Bug Zappers Kill June Bugs?

Hanging an outdoor bug zapper is a wonderful technique to get rid of and control June bugs. Bug zappers function by attracting insects to the light. The insect is shocked and killed when it comes into contact with the zapper.

These traps are completely safe for people and pets to approach, as well as being harmless to the environment. They also eliminate insects such as mosquitoes, flies, moths, and other flying insects. This trap will only kill adult June bugs on your property if they come in direct contact with the bug zapper.

Take a look at the best bug zappers for your backyard.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do June bugs bite?

June bugs have tiny mouthparts, so they can bite but they do not bite people or pets. June bugs, like all other beetles, have little mouths. These are built for chewing and eating plants rather than biting humans or defending oneself.

The larva of June beetles also have mouthparts. But like their adult counterparts, these are strictly for eating roots and plant materials, not biting or stinging.

How do you get rid of June bugs outside?

Setting up birdbaths in your garden may help you encourage June bug predators like birds. The presence of birds may actually aid in the reduction of beetle populations.

You may also use diatomaceous earth (DE) to keep June bugs away by sprinkling it on your yard or patio. Diatomaceous earth cuts the skin of the larvae and dries them out.

Are June bugs poisonous to dogs?

There are no poisonous or harmful effects of June bugs on dogs. However, eating several may upset a dog’s stomach and cause vomiting or diarrhea.


Now that you know what June bugs are, where they come from, and how to get rid of them, you can protect your home and garden from these pests. Be sure to take action as soon as you see signs of June bug activity in your yard or garden, as they can quickly become a nuisance. Try several different control methods to find the one that works best for you and your property.

By following the tips in this article, you can keep your garden free of these pests all season long!

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