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African black beetle

Scientific Name
Heteronychus arator
Scientific Author
(Fabricius) 1775
(Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Dynastinae)
Exotic Species Establishment in Australia

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Commodity Type

  • Timber
  • Fresh Roots
  • Fresh Vegetables
  • Grasses
  • Pastures
  • Ornamentals
  • Leaves
  • Viticulture
  • Beans & Peas
  • Berries


Heteronychus arator is polyphagous although the primary host for adults and larvae are roots of pasture grasses (eg, kikuyu, couch, and tufted perennial grasses such as perennial rye).  However, will also attack potato (Solanum tuberosum), maize (Zea mays), grapevine(Vitis vinifera), pineapple (Ananas comosus), vegetables such as Brassica napus (turnip), B. oleracea (cabbage, cauliflower), Cucurbita spp., Daucus carota (carrot), Lactuca sativa (lettuce), Pisum sativum (pea), and also Fragariax ananassa (strawberry), Lycopersicon esculentum ( tomato ) and Rheum rhabarbarum (rhubarb), as well as some ornamentals. Also attacks
young trees (e.g. blue gum) & young/thin wooded plants (e.g. proteas).


See weblink EPPO datasheet & WA Fact Sheet

The adults and larvae damage:

- pastures, particularly newly-sown ryegrass and also summer-dormant perennial grasses;
- irrigated and dryland summer forage crops such as millet and maize;
- turf;
- barley, triticale and wheat crops, but not oats;
- a wide range of vegetable crops;
- grape vines; and
- ornamental plants and newly-planted trees.
- Larvae damage turf and also underground crops, notably potato tubers.
- young trees (e.g. blue gum) & young/thin wooded plants (e.g. proteas).

African black beetle is a particular problem in potato crops, reducing yield by severing plantstems and by direct attacks on tubers.

See weblink WA Fact Sheet 1 & 2