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Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Japanese Beetle.

 Updated: 8/16/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The vexatious and tenacious Japanese Beetle wreaks havoc on roses, hibiscus, and other showy flowers.



The Japanese Beetle is a notorious pest that is not native to North America. It is believed to have arrived via shipping transport from Japan into New Jersey in the early part of the 1900's. Since then, the beetle has made a home in most of the continent and has been moving through Europe as well.

The beetle is commonly identified by its very unique, two-tone coloring. The upper half of the insect is an emerald green; the lower half is a copper brown. The entire Japanese Beetle has a metallic sheen on it. Noticeable grooves or ridges run the length of the coppery elytra (wing coverings). Also helpful identifiers are the small tufts of white hair that stick out from the sides of its abdomen.

Japanese Beetles are known for their destructive powers thanks to their diet. Adults feed off of most any type of cultivated and wild plants. Prized blossoms like roses, hibiscus, and daisies are chewed into and left rotting under smears of beetle feces. Leaves are chewed into, leaving behind a skeleton of veins. Even as a larva, the Japanese Beetle will attack the roots of grass and other turf plants. The white grubs hide just under the soil's surface and pupate underground.

Due to their destructive life cycle to native North American flora, elimination of this insect is a common chore for farmers and gardeners. Traps have been created using their own pheromone to lure them. Placed near plants, however, one may actually end up attracting more than the traps can kill. Insecticide use is complicated because chemicals that kill the beetle also kill good pollinators needed to create blooms in the first place. This insect has become the bane of many growers instead of a jewel to be admired.
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Scarabaeidae
          Genus: Popillia
            Species: japonica
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Popillia japonica
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 12mm (0.31in to 0.47in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: green, brown, red, white, copper, black
Descriptors: metallic, green, hairy, fuzz, flying, garden pest
Territorial Map
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Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
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Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.




Beetle Anatomy
Graphic showing basic anatomy of a common North American Beetle insect
1
Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
2
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
3
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
4
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
5
Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
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Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
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Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.