African Black Beetle

Heteronychus arator

African Black Beetle

Heteronychus arator01 by Paul venter (CC BY-SA 3.0)
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A close up of a Heteronychus arator black maize beetle insect against a white background
Heteronychus arator01 by Paul venter (CC BY-SA 3.0)
1 of 4
An African Black Beetle is an insect native to Africa. They're a medium-sized beetle that is shiny black and oval-shaped. Unfortunately, they are pests in agriculture and gardens. The larvae are soil-dwelling grubs that attack the roots of lawns. The adults chew into plant stems. their favourites are maize, pineapple and potato tubers too. These beetles can be seen flying the night, and they're attracted by light.
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Traits

Provides food for birds, reptiles and mammals.
Major pests of pineapple, maize, pea, tomato and potato tubers.

Appearance

Adults: Adult beetles are medium-sized (max length 1.5cm). They're shiny-black, lacking horns. The indented spots on the elytra (protective wing casings) are barely visible. Larvae: Large C shaped grubs. They have brown heads and six legs directly beneath.

Symptoms

Notches taken from leaves and stems. Bore into pineapple, potato, maize, taking bites form the fruits and tubers. Evident entry holes in the fruits and tubers. Larvae may attack the roots of lawns and turf, resulting in patches of brown wilted grass. Adults can kill seedlings.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Order

Coleoptera

Family

Scarabaeidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Africa, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Australia, New Zealand

Biological treatment

Proper lawn maintenance may be beneficial at keeping grub numbers low. General feeding, regular watering, aerating and scarifying are good maintenance practices. Removal of leaf litter and plant debris can also help make green spaces less attractive to beetles looking for a good hiding spot. Try to keep seedlings and newly germinated plants covered, if possible. Following the end of the warm season (end of the summer to autumn), you should scarify and aerate flower beds and turf. This should reveal any overwintering larvae in the soil. They can then be collected and placed somewhere for the birds or relocated elsewhere. Also, if you have chickens in your garden, they will also control the larval stage of these beetles.

Attracts

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