The Q&A Archives: Iridescent Beetles

Question: Last summer, in late June and July, my garden was overrun by a kind of beetle I've never seen before. It had a very bronze, iridescent back, and was actually quite beautiful. I've never seen this type of beetle mentioned in my gardening literature, and I wonder what kind it is, and how I might best control it as it was quite destructive to the garden for over a month's time. I have heard that some beetles are actually beneficial to gardeners, but I don't believe this one could be considered of that ilk!

Answer: There are a number of iridescent beetles common to gardens. If the beetle was round, it may be a tortoise beetle or a leaf beetle. If it was more oblong, it may be a Tiger beetle or a Fiery Search beetle. Most beetles are beneficial in the garden. They can feed on decaying organic debris, or even on other insects. The damage to your plants may not have been made by the beetles at all, but by caterpillars (which could very well have attracted the beetles in the first place!). Rather than eliminating the beetles, try to catch them actually feeding on your plants. If you can capture one and take it to your local Extension Office, they'll identify it for you and describe its habits. If it's a bad guy rather than a good guy, they'll make a recommendation on how best to control it. Your local Extension Office is at 1050 W. Genesee St., Syracuse 13204. Phone (315) 424-9485.

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