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Are Palo Verde Beetles Dangerous?

Palo verde beetle.
It’s that time of year: Across Arizona, giant beetles can be seen surfacing from the earth, startling residents and leaving them asking, “Is the Palo Verde beetle dangerous?”


On a recent segment from 12NEWS KPNX, Burns Pest Elimination was featured to inform the public more about this bug, its lifecycle, and to what degree it’s a cause for concern. Learn about the Palo Verde beetle in Arizona and how Burns can help with pest control and prevention tips.

What Is the Palo Verde Beetle?

Also known as Palo Verde root borers and grubs (in reference to larvae), Palo Verde beetles are aptly-named creatures that feed on the roots of distressed or dying Mexican Palo Verde trees as well as shrubs or citrus trees. Despite its pincers and overall appearance that is likened to a giant cockroach, the Palo Verde root beetle is in fact not harmful to humans or healthy trees. They are slow movers, though do beware that they can fly—and quite clumsily!

One of the largest beetles in North America, this big black beetle can be found throughout the southwestern United States. This pest reaches anywhere from about 3 to 5 inches long, or approximately the size of your palm, and possesses long antennae and spiny legs.

Most notably, the entire life purpose of a Palo Verde beetle is to emerge from underground, find a mate, and immediately die. But love works in mysterious ways for these love bugs.

During Arizona’s monsoon season in the summer—around the beginning of July—the beetles surface from the soil, increasing in prevalence throughout August and September. After mating, adult beetles lay eggs in the ground, consequently breeding young Palo Verde larvae that will later hatch and grow up to munch on tree roots, too. The bugs may live under the ground for up to four years before emerging to mate! And once they exit their ecosystem of tree roots, they often leave holes around the roots in their departure.

How to Keep Away Palo Verde Root Beetles at Home

Keeping any shrubs, citrus or olive trees, and particularly Mexican Palo Verde trees well maintained around your property is the first key to ensuring their roots aren’t rotting or decomposing. Practice proper watering and fertilizing around to help eliminate attractive environments and conducive conditions for Palo Verde beetles to thrive.

Spraying chemicals around your trees or inside the holes near roots won’t do much good, especially if the beetles have already left from underground. For a more reliable solution to a Palo Verde beetle infestation in Arizona, you can turn to regular pest control treatments for the exterior of your building.

Overrun with Big Black Beetles in AZ? Contact the Pest Prevention Pros

Hopefully, Palo Verde beetles don’t turn into a pest problem or full-blown infestation at your Arizona home or business. However, if it’s becoming difficult to “live and let live” with these big buggers, typical pest control around the outside of the premises can certainly help prevent them from returning. Get in touch with Burns Pest Elimination to talk more about Arizona beetles, or request your free quote today!