Last Updated on December 30, 2022 by Cristina
Palo verde beetles are a minor nuisance and an entomological wonder! The palo verde beetle bite is something that is not dangerous in any way. These beetles can give a nip, and the nip is very easily avoided! Read more to find out a bit about this beetle and its bite.
Beetle Bites In General
Beetles are the most numerous in species count of all animals with over 400 000 known species and many more unknown species. There are some beetles that can deliver poisonous bites – the Palo Verde and the rest of the 35 000 others species of Longhorn beetles do not fall in this category.
When I was a kid I loved bugs and used to collect insects. I remember being nipped by a longhorn beetle. My Dad, who is an Ichthyologist, and hence falls in the general category of Zoology, and the study of animals thought this was ridiculously funny. I briefly thought it was not funny, but later realized what a complete idiot I had to actually be to get nipped by a longhorn beetle!! The nip damaged my ego far more than my skin.
Based on this brief overview of beetle bites, let’s have a look at the specific beetle we are interested in and ask a bit more about the palo verde beetle bite.
What Is The Palo Verde Beetle
The Palo Verde Beetle is a Longhorn Beetle. The Longhorn beetles are a family of beetles that number more than 35 000 species. Longhorn beetles feed on living and dead plant stems and roots. We all know wood borer – these are longhorn beetles.
The Palo Verde Beetle is a Longhorn beetle that feeds on the living roots of certain trees. There is an old saying that if you kill a root, you kill a branch and vice versa. In this regard, the Palo Verde Beetle can cause dead branches in certain trees – this is the cycle of nature, and often helps open clumps of trees up, keeps the soil rich in humic substances (branches fall to the ground and are consumed by fungi, that drive the nutrient cycle in the soil) and are part of the great cycle of life. In dry ecosystems, the natural mulch layer is very important to retain water when rain does fall.
As humans, we sometimes spray things on our lawns, and into the air and water that can disrupt these cycles – in some cases, these disruptions can cause mildly damaging natural creatures such as the Palo Verde beetle to increase in numbers causing damage to our trees.
The Palo Verde beetle is native to the Southwestern US and part of Northern Mexico living in dryer areas.
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Where Do Palo Verde Beetles Live?
Palo Verde beetles live in the soil, specifically in the roots of certain trees indigenous to the area. They typically live two to three, sometimes 4 years in the grub phase which is all underground in the soil. I often find a closely related species in my garden near oak trees. The Palo Verde beetle thankfully does not occur in my area. I normally just pick the grubs up and feed them to my chickens and ducks.
In the dry Southwestern US, the Palo Verde beetle can move from being a pest of native species to other trees that are cultivated, including olive trees and citrus trees.
Are Palo Verde Beetles Dangerous? – Palo Verde Beetle Bite
If you are a tree yes – the larvae can eat your roots. For the rest of us – no. The beetle is not poisonous. It is big and clumsy. With regards to the palo verde beetle bite, if you do manage to get your finger near its mandibles it may give you a little nip. This will hardly ever pierce the skin, and the experience should be a once-off experience – once you get bitten by a beetle, you learn to keep your hands away from the mouthparts. These are really big clumsy creatures, so being bitten by them takes a certain amount of persistence on your behalf.
The adults are attracted to insect-killer electric shocker machines. I have had a similar species of large Long Horn beetle that got attracted to my bug zapper and somehow managed to crawl through the grill and then get electrocuted. These beetles are strong and can pry their way between the grill in older units when the grills rust a bit at the joins – so this thing got through and then managed to nearly start a fire. So be careful about that. This is probably the most dangerous thing they can do – far more dangerous than the palo verde beetle bite.
Palo Verde Beetle Control
It is normal to have one or two of these beetles emerge after the rains start. If however, you find you have a large number emerging it can be a symptom that your trees are not healthy, and consequently have roots that are dead and dying and more attractive to the beetles.
In this regard keeping your garden trees healthy, by mulching and providing nutrients and moisture to the trees during the growing season will keep the roots healthy. There are no real ways to safely spray for these beetles – and introducing poisons into the soil will probably cause as much damage as good.
With all pests, the best way of controlling them is prevention. I have also found that having insectivorous birds in your garden helps a lot with controlling similar species of pests that I have in my area. Muscovy ducks and chickens scratch around in loose soil and compost and have a remarkable ability to find grubs. I have seen my muscovy ducks eating large beetles as well. They would have no trouble swallowing a Palo Verde beetle whole and are not scared of a palo verde beetle bite.
How To Get Rid Of Palo Verde Beetles
From what I understand, if you live in an area where these beetles occur there is no sustainable way of getting rid of them. If you find adult beetles, stomp on them with a shoe, or smack them with a plank (this will avoid any palo verde beetle bite issues). This will reduce the number of adults laying eggs. Try to keep your plants healthy and mulched so that there are no dead, or weak roots for them to feed on.
In Conclusion – Palo Verde Beetle Bite
Palo Verde beetles are part of nature – they emerge after rain and can be a minor nuisance. They can bite you if you go out of your way to stick your fingers near their mandibles (mouth). Rather don’t do this. They are generally a symptom of trees that have a failing root system (unhealthy trees) and keeping your soil mulched and healthy will reduce the problems that these insects cause. If you really have a big problem, contact a licensed pest exterminator company and they may have a locally adapted legal way of reducing the number of beetles. Do not resort to home remedies.
Dr. Garth A. Cambray is a Canadian/South African entrepreneur and beekeeper with 28 years of experience in apiculture and specializes in adding value to honey. His Ph.D. research developed a new advanced continuous fermentation method for making mead that has resulted in a number of companies globally being able to access markets for mead. His company, Makana Meadery, exports honey mead to the USA where it is available to discerning connoisseurs. He has also developed technologies to commercially manufacture organic honey vinegar in Zambia for export globally. He holds a few patents globally in the ethanol industry and believes in technology and knowledge transfer for human development and environmental sustainability. One of his proudest achievements is the fact that the wind farm he started at one of his old apiary sites has essentially made his hometown carbon neutral.