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Protaetia orientalis in Hawaii

September 2, 2009

I’m not sure how many people are aware of it, but Protaetia orientalis (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) – the oriental flower beetle, is established in Hawaii.  I occasionally see it buzzing around the Pearl Harbor area.  In flight it looks a lot like a female carpenter bee.  I actually set out some traps for this beetle a couple of years ago on base (Makalapa compound) – perhaps I’ll write about that another day – but I didn’t have a lot of success.  I also have some experience with this little guy on Guam.

For now I’ll just post some pics from an encounter in 2002.  This was before my time with Navy and involves my predecessor and mentor, Stan Higa.  The golf course superintendent at Mamala Bay (Hickam AFB) asked Stan to go out and look at an African tulip tree on the 9th hole that was infested with a large scarab beetle.  Stan checked it out on Nov 6, 2002, took some pictures, and collected some specimens.  Bernar Kumashiro at HDOA identified the beetle as Protaetia orientalis.  I’m not exactly sure what happened after that, but I think it was determined that the infestation was limited to that particular tree and treatment they didn’t find any more beetles in the area.  Not sure how much monitoring they did in the area or for how long.  I think I remember Bernar saying that there are other records of this species being found in Hawaii.  Anyway, below are the pictures that Stan took of this particular incident.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. Robert permalink
    November 4, 2009 12:35 am

    We found one 10/22/09 turned it in to HDOA for identification.

  2. Will Haines permalink
    November 4, 2009 4:06 am

    Yeah, we also see this species all the time in Manoa, so it’s well established. People frequently bring them into the Insect Museum at Gilmore wondering what they are.

    • corycampora permalink
      November 9, 2009 9:26 pm

      I’ve recently seen them in Kailua also. Do you know if anyone has written a note about this in the PHES? It’s something I’ve been considering for a while but never seem to get around to doing.

  3. Rick McGough permalink
    August 23, 2011 9:42 am

    I’ve seen a few in Kunia lately. Picked up a dead one in my backyard and went on-line to identify it. Your history on them was very interesting. By the way, I don’t think that the tree in Stan’s pictures is the invasive African Tulip Tree. Maybe the native Kou Tree (Cordia subcordata)

    • corycampora permalink
      August 24, 2011 8:38 am

      Hi Rick, thanks for the heads-up on the tree ID.

      I’ll look into it. Also if there are any botanists out there that would like to chime in, please feel free to do so.

      Unfortunately, It would not be the first time I had sometthing misidentified on this blog.

      • November 12, 2011 3:15 am

        That’s a Geiger tree, Cordia Sebestena, in the photo, not a native kou tree.

      • corycampora permalink
        November 12, 2011 8:31 am

        Thanks for the ID – it is much appreciated!

  4. Peter Bowman permalink
    November 23, 2011 11:00 am

    Found one hanging on my pant leg the other day in Kailua……

  5. Patricia permalink
    April 3, 2012 7:45 pm

    I live in Ocean View, on the Big Island of Hawaii, and have, for the first time found 5 of these beetles in my kukui tree. I have never before seen them here.

    • corycampora permalink
      April 4, 2012 10:35 am

      Thanks for the comment – Yes, unfortunately they seem to be becoming more common throughout the State.

  6. February 25, 2013 2:45 pm

    Just found a dead one in parking lot in Kahului, Maui at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center- (February 2013)

  7. Thomas Schulz permalink
    June 20, 2013 1:02 pm

    I live in Kahala and found them and their larvae in/ on mangoes growing on a tree in my back yard

    • Thomas Schulz permalink
      June 20, 2013 1:04 pm

      Today I was attempting to divert birds from pecking holes in my mangoes but found this beetle as a result. Does anyone know how to control them? I’m worried all these delicious mangoes will fall to the mouths of these guys…

  8. Lori Kodama permalink
    September 24, 2013 7:12 pm

    I live in Kuliouou and have a small garden including a couple beds of corn. These beetles love my corn plants and I have killed at least 30 of them in the past month. I remember when I was growing up in Kaimuki that these beetles also came when we had corn plants at my parents house.

  9. Dustine Aiu permalink
    December 13, 2013 11:53 am

    Yikes! One of my tomato plants is crawling with these things. I have never seen them before here in Makakilo, but judging from earlier posts, it seems they have moved in and are spreading. Sorry, but they have got to go–I welcome lots of insects and creatures into my garden, but I draw the line on these hideous things. I don’t suppose there is an organic way to get rid of them?


  1. Oriental Flower Beetle from Hawaii | What's That Bug?

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