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Extension > Yard and Garden News > Sap beetles in gardens

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sap beetles in gardens


Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

Some home gardeners have been finding sap beetles in some of their fruits and vegetables. These beetles are generally small, between 1/8 – ¼ inch long, oval, and dark colored. Some sap beetles have orange spots on their wing covers.
A picnic beetle, a common type of sap beetle.
Photo: Tom Murray
Sap beetles are attracted to fermenting smells and will attack fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, sweet corn, raspberries, strawberries, and muskmelons, that are damaged, overripe, or rotting. They often are just a nuisance, although it is possible for them to move to and damage ripening fruit.

The best management for sap beetles is to pick fruits and vegetables regularly as they ripen and remove any damaged or overripe produce in your garden and dispose of by burying or bagging them. This helps eliminate smells that could attract them to your garden. However, once sap beetle find your garden, they can be challenging to eliminate.

Insecticides, such as carbaryl or permethrin, can kill sap
Pick up fallen and damaged fruit to prevent
attracting sap beetles to your garden.
Photo: Jeff Hahn, U of M Extension
beetles and reduce their numbers. However, the challenge is that there is an interval of time between when a product is applied and when the fruits or vegetables can be safely harvested. You can find this information by looking for the Days to Wait to Harvest number on the pesticide label.

Depending on the product, this can take days or even weeks. By then the sap beetles have likely returned. If that is the case, try to use a product with as short of a time interval as possible.

See also Sap beetles in home gardens

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