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Dealing with a Palo Verde Beetle Infestation

May 10, 2023

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

The palo verde beetle is an imposing, giant hard-shelled beetle that populates much of Arizona during monsoon season, which spans from mid-June to the end of September. The change in weather during this time draws them out of their shelters to find their mates, resulting in infestations. Use this guide to learn the essentials about palo verde beetles and how to keep them out of your home during their yearly visit.

What is a palo verde beetle?

A palo verde beetle, also called a root borer, is a large, hard-shelled, nocturnal beetle found in the southwest U.S., specifically populating Arizona areas like Phoenix and Tucson. These beetles are typically about 2 to 4 inches long when full-grown and range in color from brown to black, while larvae or grubs are a creamy white color.

Palo verde beetles fly using transparent wings and have long antennae and spines on their thorax. These beetles show up during the Arizona rainy season, leaving their shelter in palo verde trees to reproduce. The palo verde grubs make their home in tree roots and, when they’re adults, they fly about to find mates. The female adults may nest in the same area they emerged from during their larval stage. 

Predators of adult palo verde beetles include roadrunners, owls, and bobcats, while the grubs are eaten by coyotes, skunks, and sometimes, bears.

While these beetles can be frightening for humans due to their extreme size, erratic flight patterns, and loud landings, they are generally not dangerous.

Close up of a palo verde beetle or root borer on cement

Do palo verde beetles bite? 

Palo verde beetles don’t bite humans and aren’t aggressive. They’re typically not looking to interact with humans or domesticated animals. Although palo verde beetles can nip with their front mandibles, they will only do this if you attempt to pick them up and if they feel they’re in danger.

What do palo verde beetles eat? 

Newborn palo verde grubs eat the woody tissue of the palo verde tree roots; adult beetles drink nectar or feed on fruit. They typically don’t enter homes looking for food but will establish themselves in backyards within palo verde trees.

Are palo verde beetles poisonous to dogs? 

Eating a palo verde beetle won’t hurt your dog. Their natural predators include coyotes—a close relative of domesticated dogs. However, if your dog develops an uncontrollable taste for palo verde beetles, it could lead to digestive problems.

How long do palo verde beetles live? 

Grubs can live in tree roots for 3 to 4 years before transforming and emerging. Adult palo verde beetles die soon after mating, which makes their life span about one month.

Where do palo verde beetles live? 

Palo verde beetles are most commonly seen near Phoenix and Tuscon, Arizona, and similar species of beetles can be found throughout the southwest. They prefer to shelter in and around palo verde trees and their root systems. 

Palo verde beetle control 

If you’re looking to prevent palo verde beetles from overrunning your yard during monsoon season, check your property for palo verde trees and remove them before June. Keep your landscaping tidy and well-maintained, limit the amount of exterior lights you keep on, and frequently prune fruit trees or sweet-smelling flowers.

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