Phyllophaga ephilida

Potential Invader

Common name(s)

May beetle, June bug

Taxonomy

Family: Scarabaeidae Subfamily: Melolonthinae Genus: Phyllophaga Species: Phyllophaga ephilida (Say, 1825)

DNA barcode

DNA barcode available: specimen information 

Adult diagnosis

Total body length 13.0–17.8 mm (0.51–0.70 in). Body shape cylindrical, somewhat elongate. Color reddish-brown. Antennae 10-segmented; club 3-segmented; male club subequal in size to segments 1-7; female club noticeably shorter than segments 1-7. Clypeus reflexed; sinuate. Head lacking ridge at base of frons. Pronotum lacking constriction near apical angle; lacking distinct fovea at each side of anterior margin in male and female. Elytra smooth; lacking prominent setae.

Larval diagnosis

(Ritcher, 1966): Grub C-shaped, not hump-backed, cylindrical, whitish. Maxilla with galea and lacinia fused. Mandible with basolateral region with 9 setae; dorsoexterior region with fewer than 3 setae. Epipharynx haptomerum with 11 heli. Proplegmatia with 7–10 proplegmata. Last antennal segment with single large, oblong, dorsal sensory spot. Respiratory plates of spiracles not constricted. Raster with closely set palidia. Pali short, somewhat hooked, less than 3 times as long as the widths of their bases. Anal opening Y-shaped.

Native range

Eastern North America. This species is widely distributed across eastern North America, occurring from Nebraska east to New York and south to northeast Texas and Florida (Woodruff and Beck, 1989).

Plant host(s)

Adults of Phyllophaga ephilida feed at night on the foliage of a variety of plants: alder (Alnus spp.), apple (Malus spp.), ash (Fraxinus spp.), black walnut (Juglans nigra), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), pear (Pyrus spp.), pecan (Carya illinoinensis), persimmon (Diospyros spp.), plum (Prunus spp.), red oak (Quercus rubra), river birch (Betula nigra), rose (Rosa spp.), strawberry (Fragaria spp.), water oak (Quercus fastigiata), wild cherry (Prunus avium), willow (Salix spp.), and winged elm (Ulmus alata) (Woodruff and Beck, 1989). Larvae are known to damage roots of turf grasses (Watschke et al., 1994) and sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) (Diagne et al., 2006).

Life history

(Woodruff and Beck, 1989): Adults of this species feed on foliage at night. Adults are active through summer, and females deposit eggs in loose soil near potential host plants. The larvae live in the soil where they feed on the roots of nearby plants, particularly grasses. Overwintering occurs in the larval stage. Larvae take between one to three years to develop into adults (dependent upon location).

Pest potential

Significant. Both adults and larvae of this species are pests. Larvae are destructive turf pests in their native range causing significant damage to grass roots (Watschke et al., 1994). Larvae damage sweet potatoes and are a major pest of that crop in the southern United States (Diagne et al., 2006). Adults are pests, damaging and sometimes defoliating a number of important horticultural and agricultural species including apples, pears, pecans, and plums (Woodruff and Beck, 1989).

Status in Hawaii

Recorded, not established. Nishida (2002) recorded this species being intercepted in quarantine. Details of the interception could not be located.

Status in Guam

Not established or recorded. There are no records of this species from Guam.

Potential distribution and dispersal pathway

This species comes to lights at night, and it is likely that it would be attracted to well-lit ports and airports. This would allow for hitchhiking on marine or air cargo. Further, it is possible that larvae or eggs could be transported in shipments of commercial turf. Phyllophaga species are common and widespread in the mainland U.S. and have a high likelihood of reaching the islands in the future.

Similar species

This species is quite similar to the related Holotrichia bipunctata. They are differentiated by examination of the head (P. ephilida lacking ridge at the base of the frons versus H. bipunctata with a distinct ridge) and the female pronotum (P. ephilida lacking fovea at anterior margin of the pronotum versus H. bipunctata with distinct fovea at each side of pronotal anterior margin).

Other names (synonyms)

Lachnosterna burmeisteri LeConte, Lachnosterna ephilidia Horn, Melolontha ephilida Say

Report your observation

In Hawaii, this species represents a new invasive species. Prevent the spread of this species by reporting your observation at our iNaturalist project.

Phyllophaga ephilida male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida male antenna; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida male antenna; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida female antenna; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida female antenna; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida male genitalia, dorsal view; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida male genitalia, dorsal view; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida male genitalia, lateral view; photo by E.L. Engasser

Phyllophaga ephilida male genitalia, lateral view; photo by E.L. Engasser