Mayates (cotinis Mutabilis): Characteristics, Habitat, Reproduction

The mayate ( Cotinis mutabilis ) is an insect belonging to the Scarabaeidae family. It is characterized by its typical green coloration and by its habit of feeding on ripe fruits, especially figs. This is why the insect is also known as a fig-eating beetle. This species, belonging to the genus Cotinis , was identified and described for the first time by the French entomologists Gory & Percheron in 1883.

This beetle is exclusive to the American continent, specifically some Central American countries such as Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica, as well as some southern states of the United States. It is also characterized by the peculiar sound that its wings make when it flies. That, among other aspects, allows specialists to differentiate them from other species.

Characteristics of the mayate

Cotinis mutabilis is an insect and as such is considered a multicellular eukaryotic organism. Inside its cells is an organelle called the cell nucleus, within which is the genetic material (DNA) packaged to make up the chromosomes.

Likewise, this animal is multicellular because it is made up of different types of cells, which during their embryonic development differentiated and specialized in certain functions.

Continuing with the embryonic development, this insect is a triblastic organism, since it presents the three embryonic or germ layers: ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. The cells that make them up are specialized and transformed into the different tissues and organs that will constitute the adult individual.

If an imaginary line is drawn along the longitudinal axis of this animal, two exactly equal halves are obtained. This allows us to affirm, without any doubt, that it has bilateral symmetry.

They are heterotrophic herbivorous animals that feed on the leaves and fruits of plants that abound in the ecosystem in which they inhabit.

Regarding its reproduction, it is sexual, with internal fertilization and indirect development. The latter is so because the animal must go through a series of larval stages to become an adult.

Also in regards to development, they are oviparous because they develop through eggs.


Cotinis mutabilis is a large, robust-looking insect. Its standard measurements are approximately 4 cm. The shape of its body is slightly pentagonal. Its color is quite striking, being an opaque green, but presenting a metallic hue on the edge. The legs also share this tonality.

As in all insects, its body is divided into three areas: head, thorax and abdomen.

The head is the smallest part. In it there are a pair of antennas, which can be used to detect smells and feel the territory. In addition to this, they feature a small horn that is flattened, pointed and has a vertical elevation position.

From the thorax emerge three pairs of appendages that constitute the legs. Some of these may have structures called silks. Similarly, two pairs of wings are born from the thorax. One pair of wings is flexible and membranous and is protected by a pair of rigid wings.

The abdomen is the last segment of the body and all the organs that make up the different systems of the individual (respiratory, circulatory, digestive) are housed in it. The shape of the abdomen can serve to differentiate the females from the males, since in the latter their shape is concave.


The taxonomic classification of Cotinis mutabilis is as follows:

  • Domain: Eukarya
  • Animalia Kingdom
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Coleoptera
  • Superfamily: Scarabaeoidea
  • Family: Scarabaeidae
  • Genus: Cotinis
  • Species: Cotinis mutabilis

Habitat and distribution

This insect is distributed in the countries that make up Central America and in the southern part of the United States.

Its habitat is represented by forests and mainly agricultural areas. Generally, adults are only seen in summer. They are located in places where there is abundance of vegetation and trees that produce fruits, which constitute their food.


The type of reproduction that is observed in this insect is sexual. This consists of the union or fusion of a female sex cell (gamete) with a male one. The type of fertilization is internal, since it occurs inside the female’s body, through copulation.

Mating ritual

However, as with many members of the animal kingdom, these insects present a series of behaviors that together are known as mating rituals.

In this sense, the female is in charge of attracting the male. It achieves this thanks to the release of chemicals known as pheromones. These are perceived by the males and generate in them a series of stimuli related to mating.


Once the male responds to the stimulus of the pheromones, he approaches the female and the mating process begins, with the consequent fertilization. In this sense, it is important to highlight that fertilization occurs within the female’s body, so it is internal.


When fertilization occurs, the female proceeds to lay the eggs. For this, look for the ideal site, which is represented by humid tropical soil. There the female digs a small hole, with the help of her appendages and lays the eggs. Importantly, the female lays eggs twice after fertilization.


The eggs remain where the female laid them for an incubation period of approximately 15 days. After this time, they hatch and a larva emerges from them.


It is the first stage in the life of this insect. They are characterized by the fact that they feed almost exclusively on decomposing organic matter .

The larvae can hibernate for a few months. At the end of the larval period, they make a kind of cover that will allow them to develop inside. It is also important to know that the larvae of the Mayates experience a total of two molts, until they reach stage 3.


As in many insects, the pupal stage is when the animal undergoes the most changes and acquires the definitive characteristics that will identify the adult individual. In this insect, this phase lasts approximately a little more than 15 days.


It is the final stage in the life of Cotinis mutabilis . It begins when the adult insect emerges from the pupa, ready for mating.


The diet of Cotinis mutabilis depends on its stage. This is how the larvae have a totally different diet from that of the adult insect.

The larvae feed exclusively on decomposing organic matter. This is because, generally, they are found growing in the manure of mammals such as pigs.

In the case of the adult insect, it is clearly herbivorous, since it feeds on fruits, specifically those that are mature. So much so that in some localities it is known as the “fig-eating beetle”.

Among the fruits on which this beetle mainly feeds, figs, grapes and apples, among others, can be mentioned. The diet is not limited exclusively to fruits, but can also feed on other substances produced by plants, very rich in sugars, such as the nectar of some flowers.


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  2. Burmeister, H. (1842). Entomology. Band 3. Berlin
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  4. Goodrich, M. (1966) A review of the genus Cotinis (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae). Annals of the Enomological Society of America 59 (3)
  5. Hickman, CP, Roberts, LS, Larson, A., Ober, WC, & Garrison, C. (2001). Integrated principles of zoology (Vol. 15). McGraw-Hill.
  6. Morón, MA, Ratcliffe, BC, & Deloya, C. (1997). Atlas of the Beetles of Mexico. Vol. 1 (Family Melolonthidae). CONABIO-Mexican Society of Entomology

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