What month is it again?

May beetles (genus Phyllophaga) get their common name from the typical time adults emerge (late spring) and their Latin binomial name from the eating habit of the adults: leaves. This one was a bit early (showing up in early March), but then again I am sure there is some natural variation in the phenology of the over 400 described North American species of Phyllophaga.

beet2a

A May beetle (Phyllophaga sp.)

As true scarabs (Scarabaeidae), Phyllophaga has its antennae divided into sheet-like plates called lamellae. In the photo above, they are held together like a book, but they can be spread wide like a fan at times. I have found it hard to induce this for a photo, sadly.

beet2b

Another view of the same individual

As voracious herbivores both in their larval and adult stages, these guys can be major agricultural pests. In fact, I found an entire doctoral dissertation on the effects and control of one Phyllophaga species on the sweet potato crop here in Louisiana.

 

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