The sugarcane beetle, Euetheola humilis, is found throughout the South. First reported as a pest of sugarcane in Louisiana in 1880, it is considered an occasional pest of field corn, rice and sweet potato. In recent years it appears to be becoming an increasingly important pest in Louisiana and Mississippi. In Texas I have received increasing reports of this beetle from unusual urban situations. Schools have reported damage occurring to running tracks. Businesses have reported damage to caulking in sidewalks and around doors of buildings and, last year, a car dealership reported beetles digging their way into rubber seals on recreational vehicles in a sales lot.
|Black piles of sugarcane beetles at high school running track, Paris, TX. September 13, 2010. |
Photo by Sam Adams, Pogue Construction
Such infestations seem to be sporadic, as these beetles are not abundant in all years; but when they are, they are showing themselves to be a formidable pest. Like crickets and many other occasional pests, sugarcane beetles are attracted to lights at night. When sun comes up, the beetles' natural instinct is to get out of the light. What makes this species different is its persistence, ability and strength to dig through rubbers and caulks and other usually tough building materials.
|Sugarcane beetles lift a rubberized running track off its cement base |
via their digging activities.
The only good news about this situation is that such flights are temporary and will probably decline within a week or two. Football and track coaches, however, may still not be pleased.