I was digging in one of my raised beds the other day and found a giant white grub — nearly 2″ long with a dark brown spot on one end, and 4 or 6 claws on that same end. Grossed me out, but before I did anything to it, I did a little Googling to make sure it wasn’t anything beneficial.
At first, I thought it was the Japanese beetle grub, which eats plant roots. So I tossed it into an empty plastic Folgers coffee can for later disposal and continued to dig. I found another. And another. And another. The Folgers can was now half full of giant squirming maggots, and I could hear the damn things scrabbling at the sides and bottom with their little claws desperately trying to get out. Worse, I estimated I had only gotten about a quarter of them out of the bed, if I was lucky.
Back to Google to learn how to organically nuke the suckers.
Turns out further research was a good thing. According the the University of Arizona, as of July 2011 the Japanese beetle has not yet come to Arizona. What I found are actually Bumble Flower Beetle larvae, which are beneficial. They tend to pupate in horse manure and compost, which is what makes up about 2/3 of the “soil” in my raised beds (the other 1/3rd being rotting straw).
So I dumped the squirming coffee can back into the garden soil, took a shower, and had a drink. They may be beneficial but … ew.