Why this researcher loves the furious flutter of June bug wings

·3 min read
'If you take a June bug and you kind of hold it between your thumb and forefinger and you look at it nice and close they have these big dark soulful eyes,' says Paul Manning. (Shutterstock - image credit)
'If you take a June bug and you kind of hold it between your thumb and forefinger and you look at it nice and close they have these big dark soulful eyes,' says Paul Manning. (Shutterstock - image credit)

Typically Islanders associate this time of year with the beginning of summer, but it's also a time that brings something else — June bugs.

Many people flee from the loud nightly fluttering as the bugs bounce off outdoor lights and screen doors — but Paul Manning embraces the creatures.

"I love June bugs," said the post doctoral researcher with the faculty of agriculture at Dalhousie University.

"If you take a June bug and you kind of hold it between your thumb and forefinger and you look at it nice and close they have these big dark soulful eyes and they are covered in fuzz. They can't bite you, they're just nice little bugs."

There are 800 different types of June bug, says Manning.
There are 800 different types of June bug, says Manning.(Associated Press)

Manning has written about his love of the bugs because people are always asking him questions.

"People are just, I think, looking for ways to get rid of them. Sometimes they just want to call to share a story about how grossed out they are by them," he said.

There are three main reasons people don't like the flying beetle, Manning said.

The bugs tend to fly into people's faces, they have sticky legs and can get stuck in hair.

"And lastly, is that they are quite big. They are a lot larger than many of the other insects we have in these parts and people are just grossed out by something that's large."

'High in protein'

Now, he wants to rehabilitate the reputation of the June bug — and there are many reasons to love them, according to Manning.

Skunks and birds will dig up lawns in search of June bug larva.
Skunks and birds will dig up lawns in search of June bug larva.((CBC))

"They are a really important food source for all different kinds of creatures, things like birds, all kinds of different species of birds including owls and bluebirds and robins eat the larva and the adults."

But it isn't just birds that enjoy the crunch of a June bug — sometimes people do too. In some circles they are called "croutons of the sky," Manning said.

"That is something that many people choose to do. June bugs are pretty high in protein and they're pretty high in fat and to many people they taste really good," he said.

People who eat June bugs will toss them in a pan with some oil, salt and pepper, but Manning said he has seen some complex recipes with the bug being stuffed with cheese or onions.

However, he hasn't eaten them himself.

He said adult June bugs can be anywhere from a year to five years old and spend a lot of time underground eating grass roots before maturing.

The bugs can cause damage to people's lawns. Manning said birds do come to lawns to pick up larva.

"What you are really seeing is the ecosystem doing something that's good," he said. "If you can tolerate a little bit of that damage, what you are doing is helping your local ecosystem."

There are 800 different types of June bug, Manning said.

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