NC State Extension Publications

Biology

The sugarcane beetle (Euetheola humilis) is black with a domed back. It is about 0.5 inches in length and has specialized forelegs for digging. It is covered with little impressions that make up semi-parallel lines. Sugarcane beetle egg are small, oval, and white, browning with maturity. As the eggs get older still, they double in size and become more spherical. Larvae are small and white bodied with a red head.

Sugarcane beetles are the most active staring in March through fall. Eggs are laid in moist soil during these active months. The eggs hatch into white larvae with red heads.

Sugarcane beetles are most commonly considered pests of grasses, including turf, corn, rice, and sugarcane.

Adult sugarcane beetle.

Adult sugarcane beetle.

Photo via NC TurfFiles

Crop

Sugarcane beetles have been observed feeding on strawberries rarely, and they have been typically been found in fields that were unmanaged or uncultivated grass the year before. Adult beetles may feed both on roots and on fruit. Most reports of injury have occurred when fruit touching the ground have been fed upon.

Management

Cultural

The sugarcane beetle’s biology and lifecycle are not completely understood and are currently being researched. Therefore, it is difficult know exactly how to manage them. However, we can recommend planting away from sod, hayfields or any other grassy pastures as sugarcane beetles appearances are more likely in those areas. We can also recommend promoting plant vigor as much as possible by using proper fertilization.

Conventional insecticides

Refer to the North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual for materials recommended for use against twospotted spider mites in North Carolina and the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium Strawberry IPM Guide for regional recommendations. If you are outside the southeastern United States, please check with your local extension agent.

Organic insecticides

Sugarcane beetle is very difficult to manage post-planting, and there are no recommended organic control options. Rotating away from infested fields is recommended.

Author:

Associate Professor and Extension Specialist
Entomology

Publication date: March 19, 2014

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