How to Get Rid of Palo Verde Beetles

large beetle on red berries

Scientists call it the Derobrachus germinatus. More commonly, it's called the Palo Verde beetle. It's also known as the root borer beetle because this is what it does. This beetle bores into the roots of plants and can cause extensive damage. Knowing what to do to prevent them and how to get rid of them once they show up on your property could save the life of your trees and will ultimately have a big impact on the overall look of your property.

Palo Verde Beetle

On close inspection, Palo Verde beetles look like little monsters. They look something like large cockroaches with long antennae. The difference is, these beetles look way scarier than cockroaches. They also have spines and wings, because they can fly. These beetles grow to be around three inches long in adulthood. They lay their eggs in the soil around the roots of trees. When the larvae hatch, they bore into the roots.

Palo Verde beetles can be found throughout the Southwest, but they are extensively located in and around Phoenix and Tuscon in Arizona.

What They Do

The Palo Verde beetle poses the greatest threat to Palo Verde trees but they can take root (pun intended) in many other plants and trees. The beetles can cause the trees to be susceptible to diseases in addition to weakening the roots by gnawing at them.

tree bark damaged by beetles digging holes

These beetles attack a huge variety of trees, including fruit trees like apricot, plum and peach. They also attach citrus, mulberry, elm, cottonwood, mesquite and privet trees and bushes. Palo Verde beetles can't be treated with insecticides because they dig down into the soil, where chemicals can't reach them. The insecticides can’t penetrate deeply enough to get into the soil and into the roots.

Because they feed on the roots of trees and plants, these beetles can do extensive damage. A problem affecting the roots of any plant will ultimately affect the entire plant, impeding growth. It is possible for these beetles to kill trees in time if large populations are present. This happens after about seven to 10 years. Damage to the roots can cause visible signs of wilting throughout the trees. This kind of damage can keep leaves, fruits and flowers from appearing on the trees, or greatly decrease the amount.

beetle grub digging into bark mulch

Fixing the Problem

The best way to get rid of Palo Verde beetles and prevent them is simply good tree care. If your tree is being regularly fertilized and watered, the roots will thrive and the tree will remain healthy.

As long as you keep your trees healthy, these beetles are essentially harmless. The roots will stay strong in spite of any damage caused by the beetles, which will also keep the tree healthy.

These beetles only feed on tree roots that are unhealthy. Roots that are at their healthiest don't appeal to these beetles. So if you keep your trees healthy, they'll move on to find other plants that will sustain them.

a healthy looking tree with mulch around its roots

There is no easier way to remove these beetles entirely. Because insecticides cannot reach them, you will have to fight against them by maintaining healthy trees. If you see signs of disease or stress in your trees, monitor them carefully and give them regular watering and fertilizer treatments as needed to maintain optimal health. This is the best and only defense against these pests.

One of the best weapons against all harmful pests is to maintain good tree health. Prune dead branches and leaves off of trees, remove invasive weeds and vines that could compete with your trees for nutrients and make sure they’re getting plenty of water and nutrients to thrive.

This will keep a whole host of different pests away and keep your trees looking amazing, to boot. Maintaining healthy trees will greatly improve the look of your yard and it will help maintain strong health in your yard as well.