Cane beetle

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Cane beetle
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Scarabaeidae
Genus: Dermolepida
Species: D. albohirtum
Binomial name
Dermolepida albohirtum
(Waterhouse, 1875)

The cane beetle, Dermolepida albohirtum, is a native Australian beetle and a pest of the sugar cane. Adult beetles eat the leaves of sugar cane but greater damage is done by their larvae hatching underground and eating the roots, which either kills or stunts the growth of the plant. The grub feeds off the roots of the sugar cane during all three stages of its life. The third stage occurs during February to May where it aggressively feeds on the sugar cane’s roots. This is where they cause the most damage to the plant.[1]

The grub burrows down to turn into a pupa once it is fully fed after 3–4 months of aggressive feeding. The pupa develops into a beetle within a month. The beetles do not emerge from the soil until the weather conditions are adequate.[2]

Larvae, which are known as greyback cane grubs, are small white grubs.

Adult beetles are white with speckles of black and often smell like rotten pork.

Female beetles lay their eggs in the soil of sugar cane about 20–45 cm deep generally choosing the tallest cane. A female beetle can lay up to 3 clutches, 20-30 eggs per clutch.[3]

The beetles can also found in the Philippines and are known by the local name salagubang.

Methods of control include applications of Metarhizium anisopliae. The greyback cane beetle was, along with the Frenchi cane beetle, Lepidiota frenchi, the reason that the cane toad (Rhinella marina) was introduced in Australia. The cane toad was supposed to combat the beetles, to protect the sugar cane. However, it didn't, and became a major pest.

Pest control against Cane Beetles also damages a large variety of other insects and invertebrates that can be beneficial to the ecosystem thus preventing the use of pesticides.


  • Sallam, Sallam, Nader (2011). "Review of current knowledge on the population dynamics of Dermolepida albohirtum (Waterhouse) (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae)". Australian Journal of Entomology. 50. doi:10.1111/j.1440-6055.2010.00807.x.