Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

June 12, 2013

Beetle Mania: Insects annoying but harmless

Amy Brocato Pearson
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — If you've been hearing a certain "crunch" underfoot and know it's not the rustle of fall leaves, it's probably one of the million of harpalus beetles swarming right now.

The beetles, which are "annoying but harmless," said Cherokee County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent Kim Benton, are mating right now and that's why we're seeing so many of the approximately 1-inch black insects.

"It's peak season," she explained. "Normally they're not an inside pest. But if you don't have a good seal in your building they're easily able to get inside."

A ground beetle whose common name is the "Pennsylvania ground beetle," the harpalus beetles do try to avoid heat, so area businesses and residences are seeing them inside as they seek cooler temperatures.

They are also drawn to outside lighting like moths are.  Carabid, or ground beetles, are predators on other insects, according to Michael E. Merchant, professor and extension urban entomologist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

"They live and hunt on the ground, hence the family name "ground beetles," he said.

Merchant said he'd received reports of large numbers of beetles from "several counties east and southeast of the Dallas area," including Cherokee and Hender-son counties.

One downtown Jack-sonville business owner was sweeping the beetles out of their front door into the street on Thursday at lunchtime.

"I just can't stand it; they're everywhere," the owner said.

There's not a lot you can do about the beetles, but mating season only lasts a few week, with about a week to go, Merchant said.

"It's irritating but I promise, they won't hurt you," Benton reiterated.