The Zayante Hills near Santa Cruz, California, are home to a number of rare species, including Mount Hermon June beetles. There, in the sandy soil, they live only for a few weeks as adults, but as larvae they grow for several years, mainly in underground burrows. This long lifespan and very narrow range—they are found nowhere else—make the species quite vulnerable.

In 1997, the beetles were added to the U.S. Endangered Species List—which classifies certain species as “endangered” or “threatened.” An endangered species is at risk of extinction, while a threatened one may become endangered soon. Being placed on this list offers some special protections: anyone owning property where the species lives must avoid doing anything that would harm the plant or animal—and must obtain federal approval to develop the land.

These measures afford more protections than those we provide for most other insects, but the beetles continue to contend with urban development and sand mining in and around their sandhill habitat.

Mount Hermon June beetle
Polyphylla barbata
0.8–0.85 inches (about 20 mm)
Ecological Role
AMNH Specimen Number
AMNH_IZC 00292220
California, U.S.