Forget it and go inside is unfortunately the best advice I can give to those wanting to have supper on their outdoor porches, decks or patios.

For folks that insist on eating alfresco, maybe grab a helmet. That would provide protection from the irritating insects that are falling into my food and flying straight for my head to rest in the tangle of my tresses. My once perfect by day deck has become a not at night sort of affair. No longer can I relax, eat or just hang outside come evening. A barrage of beetles has pierced the perfection of my favorite place.

Oriental beetles are the beasts that have become the evening’s bane. These small scarab beetles are black and tan and seem to bounce about like pesky insect pinballs. However, while they may interfere with my evening enjoyment, they are not a huge concern for my growing garden.

One of four scarab beetles common in New England turf, Oriental beetles are the least damaging of the four to crops and grass. The others, including the Japanese beetle, Asiatic beetle and European chafers, are better known for their presence and damage.

Beetles are a large and diverse group, but with careful observation, they can be discernible. Entomologist E.O. Wilson valued their distinctions: “It may be argued that to know one kind of beetle is to know them all. But a species is not like a molecule in a cloud of molecules—it is a unique population. “

Differentiate these turf beetles by size — the European chafer and Japanese beetles are larger than the Oriental, while the Asiatic is smaller. Also look for their colors and patterns — Japanese beetles are green and reddish and the European chafer and Asiatic, while beige, lack the black patterns of the Oriental beetle. The Oriental beetle comes out at night while the Japanese beetle is a day flyer.

Food preferences for the Oriental beetles include roses, phlox, petunias and squash, though they are not known for having a large appetite. In fact, though they seem to be everywhere in my garden, they are not causing any observable damage.

It is during the grub part of their life cycle that they cause trouble for turf managers and lawn lovers. One estimate of grub density for the oriental beetle puts their concentration at 60 per square foot in infested soil. Luckily those grubs provide food for the skunks and other wildlife. Perhaps another good reason to avoid grass and go with the Vineyard-style brown, weedy lawn!

Getting rid of the adults or larva is possible. Picking adult Oriental beetles off of your plants and putting them in soapy water is one non-chemical method. Or take German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s observation and lesson: “Any foolish boy can stamp on a beetle, but all the professors in the world cannot make a beetle.”

I’m going to leave the Oriental beetles be for now as they have not caused any ill effects besides messy meals and buggy hair. Since they come a week or two ahead of the Japanese beetle, I will save my aggressions for that more problematic pest.

Suzan Bellincampi is director of the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown, and author of Martha’s Vineyard: A Field Guide to Island Nature.