a beetle of the family Scarabaeidae that damages numerous agricultural crops. Epicometis hirla is up to 12mm long. It is dull black and clothed with grayish yellow bristles; the elytra have white spots.
The insect is found in southern parts of the European USSR. It appears in early spring and feeds on the generative organs of such early-flowering plants as dandelions and coltsfoots. When fruit trees blossom, the insects invade orchards and devour the flower buds and blossoms of apple, pear, and similar trees. During years of massive reproduction, the insects can completely destroy generative organs in two or three days. They cause particularly serious harm during drought years. When the blossoming of fruit trees reaches its completion, the beetles feed on the flowers of gramineous and cruciferous plants.
E. hirta deposits its eggs in soil rich in humus. The newborn larvae feed on decaying rootlets and humus. The beetles winter in the soil.
Countermeasures include shaking the beetles from trees and shrubs and destroying them; this should be done in the morning and on cool, cloudy days, when the beetles’ level of activity is low. The earth around the tree trunk should then be treated with insecticide to kill beetles that have hidden in the earth overnight.