Deborah Makowsky, owner of Tyler Pest Services, said she has had a lot of phone calls concerning an increase in small beetles in East Texas.
The beetles are similar to the June bug, but instead of round fat bodies, the common ground beetle is slightly flat and thin, averaging about an inch in length, said Dr. Srini Kambhampapi, professor and chairman for the department of biology at the University of Texas at Tyler. He said there are several species, but they are all very similar in appearance and range from dark brown to black.
Ms. Makowsky said she has received up to 10 phone calls in a day from residents concerned about the bugs, which are common sights on porches and concrete.
She has seen more beetles this year than in the past, and she said it could be because of several mild winters in a row.
“We haven’t had a lot of hard freezes in awhile,” Ms. Makowsky said. “There were very few of them, and they didn’t last very long.”
Kambhampapi said ground beetles are cold-blooded creatures and spend the winter either as eggs or larva in the ground. In the summertime, they hatch and look for food and mates.
“They are nothing to worry about other than a normal disgust factor people have for insects,” Kambhampapi said.
The critters can even be beneficial.
“Most of them feed on other insects,” Kambhampapi said. “They are actually predators, so they are beneficial in the sense that they are feeding on other insects.”
Certain types of the bugs can be harmful to dogs if eaten, said Joelle Deacon, registered veterinary technician at South Tyler Animal Clinic.
Ms. Deacon said the critters can cause a parasite that lives in the intestinal track of dogs, a parasite that lives in the esophagus, and irritable bowel syndrome.
She said the parasites can be difficult to find with standard tests, and to get the parasites out of the esophagus, the animal has to be sedated and a probe sent down its throat. Each worm then would be manually taken out.
“Bugs, in general, try not to eat them,” Ms. Deacon said. “We have seen quite a few cases over the last few weeks, so if they can avoid that, then it’s good for everybody.”
The most common sign of the parasites is chronic vomiting, but they also can have loose stool, Ms. Deacon said.
“As soon as we get those worms, they quit vomiting,” she said. “It’s overnight.”
Kambhampapi said the beetles are out and about searching for food and mates. He said they generally stay outside and prefer to be on the ground, although they can fly. Like June bugs, they are attracted to bright lights at night.
“Adults probably live for a few weeks, so they will start dying out when the heat really sets in, and then you won’t see them again until next year,” he said.