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Discover Nature: June Bugs

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MDC Forest Pathologist Simeon Wright
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Late spring evenings often bring the sound of buzzing and crashing at windows, doors, and porch lights. This week on Discover Nature, we’ll take a closer look at June bugs reappearing in Missouri.

Also known as May beetles, June bugs are usually brown, rusty, or black, and have hairy undersides. They are nocturnal and are attracted to lights at night, clumsily walking, flying, and crash-landing.

June bugs belong to a large family of beetles called scarabs – with stout, oval bodies, clubbed antennae, and segments that can press tightly together as armor, or fan open like a feather.

These beetles begin life as white grubs, living underground for one to four years. At maturity, they emerge in late spring to fly, mate, and lay eggs.

May beetles cannot hurt humans, but, in large numbers, can cause damage to lawns and crops. However, crop rotation, strategic plowing, and nature’s own controls can prevent annual infestations.

June bugs provide an important food source for skunks, moles, birds, and frogs, and the grubs are famous as free, live fishing bait, plentiful in the spring.

Learn more about June bugs and keep up with other spring changes in Missouri with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Trevor serves as KBIA’s weekday morning host for classical music. He has been involved with local radio since 1990, when he began volunteering as a music and news programmer at KOPN, Columbia's community radio station. Before joining KBIA, Trevor studied social work at Mizzou and earned a masters degree in geography at the University of Alabama. He has worked in community development and in urban and bicycle/pedestrian planning, and recently served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia with his wife, Lisa Groshong. An avid bicycle commuter and jazz fan, Trevor has cycled as far as Colorado and pawed through record bins in three continents.
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