What Is a Hissing Beetle?

A hissing beetle is scientifically known as Polyphylla decemlineata, or the ten-lined June beetle. This beetle lives in Canada and the western region of the United States. When the beetle is touched or disturbed, it pushes its wings down, forcing air between its wings and back, emitting a low hissing sound similar to the hissing of a bat.

Hissing beetles grow to over an inch in size. Adult males have large antennae that are used to detect the pheromones emitted by the females beetles.

The larvae of the hissing beetle feed on plant roots, which sometimes causes the plant to weaken or die. Grubs consume so much of a tree’s root structure that severely affected trees can sometimes easily be pulled right out of the ground, lacking the foundation to keep them rooted. Severe infestations require tree removal and soil fumigation.

Adult beetles feed on foliage and typically inhabit fruit trees, roses, corn crops and potatoes. Unlike their larvae, adult beetles typically do not cause widespread economic damage to crops or orchards. Infestations of hissing beetles grow quite slowly, due in part to the reluctance of mated females to change areas and the long generation span of the beetle, which can be up to four years in the Northwest.