It is a clumsy flier and makes a buzzing sound. Large beetles, which are clumsy and make a very loud buzzing sound when flying. And those aren’t the only names in use either – mitchamador, billy witch and spang beetle have all been used in different areas in the past. To reverse the damage we've done and protect the future, we need the knowledge that comes from scientific discovery. Seen for the first time, an adult cockchafer, or May bug, can cause a bit of a stir and people can be worried by them.Â. Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences. When a beetle lands on the ground, the delicate wings tuck safely away under hard wing cases called elytra. The intimidating sharp point at the tip of a cockchafer’s abdomen is not a sting, but a pygidium – used by females to push their eggs deep into the soil. ', Although they are known as bugs, cockchafers are not true bugs, which belong to another group of insects that includes shield bugs, water bugs, aphids and scale insects.Â. We use cookies to make your online experience sweeter. But if we don't look after nature, nature can't look after us. It is also prone to falling down chimneys. Cockchafers gather together on top of buildings. Most specimens are chestnut brown but for the head, pronotum and scutellum which are darker. Their bodies are hairy and have white cup-shaped markings down each side. Cockchafers make an irritating buzz when flying, and the gigantic beetles are known for casusing irreparable damage to gardens and biting humans. One of Britain’s bulkiest beetles, the 3-cm-long cockchafer can be heard and seen buzzing and bumping against light fittings and window panes (more commonly in the south) from late April to July. Adult European chafers are tan or brown beetles resembling June beetles and measure approximately 1.5cm in length. Fast Facts. Thanks! The grubs (sometimes called rookworms as they are prized by corvids) can devastate cereal crops. "In some areas and times, cockchafers were even served as food. The antennal club of the male cockchafer has seven lamellae which are about 3.5mm long; in the female it is 6-segmented and about 1.5mm in length. We use them to help improve our content, personalise it for you and tailor our digital advertising on third-party platforms. 'It flies around tree tops, nibbles leaves as adults and eats roots below ground as a larva. True bugs that can fly have wings that usually overlap when folded, instead of meeting in a mid-line as cockchafer wings do. Dangerous pest in the garden. A cockchafer is a type of large, flying beetle that can be quite noisy. We must act on scientific evidence, we must act together, and we must act now. Main image: Cockchafers distinctive antennae sit in a distinctive fan-like arrangement. After 3-4 years, they emerge from the ground and mate as beetles. Only those grubs found in turf are likely to be chafers damaging lawn roots Other less troublesome species of chafer grubs can also occur in turf and garden borders, such as the cockchafer ( Melolontha melolontha ), summer chafer ( Amphimallon solstitialis ) and brown chafer ( Serica brunnea ). © The Trustees of The Natural History Museum, London, Discover the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity. Now we're wondering if you can help us. Â, Every year, more people are reading our articles to learn about the challenges facing the natural world. It has characteristic fanned antennae, a black body, and brown legs and wingcases. During the day it tends to rest among leaf litter or under stones. They can be larger than the adults, growing to up to 4cm and are a food source for owls and bats. Figeaters are the most widespread beetle in their subgroup. Despite the mounting pressures, hope is not lost. Females lay their eggs in the soil, and these hatch into carnivorous larvae. This is a smaller species that usually emerges at the beginning of June and is common around the date of the summer solstice, 21 June.Â, 'It does pretty much the same thing,' Hine said. The adults eat leaves and flowers. Cockchafers have whitish triangles on their sides, hairy bodies, reddish-brown wing cases that meet in the middle and orange fan-like antennae. Find out about the plants and animals that make the UK home. In autumn they seek somewhere to hibernate. Cockchafers are 15mm to 20mm long. Cockchafers gather together on top of buildings. No matter the size, every gift to the Museum is critical to our 300 scientists' work in understanding and protecting the natural world. Â. Thank you. 'They have a segment called the pygidium at the end of their abdomen, which is long and pointed,' Hine said. The larvae, sometimes called rookworms, live in the soil and eat the roots of vegetables and grasses. Adult cockchafers are one of the top enquiries to the IAS during May. Find out more. Large beetles, which are clumsy and make a very loud buzzing sound when flying. The Year of the May Bug. You can often see cockchafers on May evenings buzzing around the garden, which is why they are often known as the 'May bug'. The cockchafer may have got its most common name from a mixture of "cock" as in familiar, such as "cock-sparrow", and "chafer" from "cefer" or "kaefer", a gnawing beetle… Cockchafer Description This large beetle has ribbed wing cases (elytra) that are reddish-brown in colour, and the head and the pronotum are blackish and covered in short hairs. This cycle means that a lot of may bugs emerge from the ground every 4 years. 'Then after dark, they are attracted to light and can get caught in lamp shades. Cockchafer Beetle Maybug melolantha melolantha Irish beetles Ireland Irish UK Europe hairy elytra chitin insect macro photograph European beetle. In 1574, cockchafers emerged in such numbers in the Severn valley that the volume of carcasses disabled watermills. A 19th century recipe from France for cockchafer soup reads: "roast one pound of cockchafers without wings and legs in sizzling butter, then cook them in a chicken soup, add some veal liver and serve with chives on a toast". Curl grubs are the larvae of different species of beetle including the African Black Beetle, the blackheaded pasture cockchafer, Christmas beetles and Scarab beetles. Blackheaded cockchafer beetles invade Tasmanian homes after hot, wet weather. A nocturnal predator, this beetle lives in and around decaying matter. Our expert guide to cockchafers explains how to identify this fascinating beetle, plus facts about their diet and habitat. These beetles usually appear around late April – early May and can frequently be seen and heard flying into lit windows and even lamps indoors! The good news is that the beetles, which are a scarab beetle in the dung beetle family, cannot bite. Adult cockchafers only live for about 5 or 6 weeks. They fly at dusk on warm evenings, making a noisy hum, and are attracted to light. The cockchafer, colloquially called Maybug or doodlebug, is the name given to any of the European beetles of the genus Melolontha, in the family Scarabaeidae. Beetles have heavy body armor, so they often fly more slowly than other insects. The larvae feed on dead plant material and the live roots or stems of a broad range of plants including lawns. Already have an account with us? Their undersides are covered with fine white hairs. This pygidium often leads people to believe that this species can sting, but do not worry – this beetle cannot sting. What do cockchafer beetles look like? They are mostly extinct across the rest of Europe due to the use of super-strength pesticides that are outlawed in the United Kingdom. The May bug or doodlebug - Latin name Melolontha melolontha – known as the Spang beetle and Billy witch in Suffolk and the chovy, mitchamador, kittywitch or midsummer dor in Norfolk, is actually the Common Cockchafer. The cockchafer is about 2.5cm in length and is the largest species of chafer beetle in the UK. If more than 5-10 grubs are found per section, chafer control is recommended. These are called grubs. Museum Coleoptera Curator Beulah Garner said a warm spell will bring them out early. Understanding and protecting life on our planet is the greatest scientific challenge of our age. And you can help. Â, We are a charity and we rely on your support. What do cockchafer beetles look like? You must be over the age of 13. The life cycle of the common cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) has the following stages: egg, three larval instars, a pupal instar and the adult beetle.The adult beetle is 25 to 30 mm long, with a dark head, black pronotum covered with short hairs, and reddish brown elytra with four longitudinal ribs each. The chubby white grubs attack grass blades from the roots, potentially ruining pristine turf. Antennae are the olfactory sense organs of insects, and this formation greatly increases the surface area available for the chemosensors. Seen for the first time, an adult cockchafer, or May bug, can cause a bit of a stir and people can be worried by them. The cockchafer is sometimes called a ‘doodle-bug’ or May bug, although it is in fact a beetle. The animals and plants that make our island unique are facing a fight to survive. Hedgehog habitats are disappearing, porpoises are choking on plastic and ancient woodlands are being paved over.Â. May bugs spend most of their time underground as larvae. Another common species to look out for is the summer chafer, Amphimallon solstitialis. 'We would usually expect to get 100 or more calls from people wanting to know what this peculiar creature is,' said Hine. Chafer grubs are the larvae of chafer beetles. Until pesticides started controlling them in the Twentieth Century, cockchafers were a serious agricultural pest. Their grubs are even more dangerous. Cockchafer beetles used to be common across Europe, but were almost wiped out by pesticides during the 20th century. Adults are 2.5-3cm long, and are common in the south of England and the Midlands. The name cockchafer means 'big beetle' in Old English.Â, Although one of their common names is the May bug, if climate conditions are right, adult cockchafer beetles are often seen flying in April.Â. From as little as £2, you can help us to find new ways to protect nature. People tell us they 'still get shivers walking through the front door', and thank us for inspiring the next generation of scientists. Cockchafer beetle. https://www.buglife.org.uk/bugs/bug-directory/common-cockchafer A cockchafer is a type of large, flying beetle that can be quite noisy. But Stuart Hine from the Museum’s Identification and Advisory Service (IAS), who is often asked by the public to identify them, confirms that they most certainly don't sting. Huge collection, amazing choice, 100+ million high quality, affordable RF and RM images. The cockchafer is sometimes called a ‘doodle-bug’ or May bug, although it is in fact a beetle. They die after 4-6 weeks. At first glance you could mistake it for an earwig. The Devil’s coach horse is a long, black beetle with short elytra (wing cases). You can unsubscribe at any time. It has characteristic antennae that fan out. The common cockchafer, Melolontha melolontha, is a rather large beetle that flies about noisily, emitting a loud whirring noise.It is more commonly known as the May Bug and it gets this nickname as it commonly emerges in early May and is seen frequently during this time. The cockchafer, colloquially called May bug or doodlebug, a European beetle … These are all common names for the juvenile stage of a lawn beetle that feeds on the lawn roots. The May bug or doodlebug - Latin name Melolontha melolontha – known as the Spang beetle and Billy witch in Suffolk and the chovy, mitchamador, kittywitch or midsummer dor in Norfolk, is actually the Common Cockchafer. The cockchafer is sometimes known as the doodlebug. It isn't actually a bug and doesn't only fly in May, but the UK's  largest chafer beetle is easy to spot. Cockchafers, along with stag beetles, dung beetles, dor beetles and scarabs, have the last three to seven segments of their antennae expanded into flat, plate-like leaves, which sit in a distinctive fan-like arrangement. We are closed until further notice. Find the perfect cockchafer beetles stock photo. Male and female cockchafers may use some subtle chemical signal from decay, or particular roots, to co-ordinate a rendezvous, but the fact that males have seven club segments and females only six suggests that males also respond to female pheromone scents. Adult European chafers are tan or brown beetles resembling June beetles and measure approximately 1.5cm in length. These pests will feed on your lawns root system and will be a serious problem. This familiar beetle has a black thorax, rusty brown elytra (wing cases) and brown legs. ANSWER: Adult beetles don't cause any significant damage. Common chafer on green grass. ‘They sometimes mistake chimney stacks for tree tops and occasionally fall down chimneys into open fireplaces,’ Hine said. Adult cockchafers are associated with deciduous woodland where they feed on tree leaves. With its rusty-brown wing cases, pointed 'tail' and fan-like antennae it is unmistakeable. Adults: cockchafer beetles are large and bulky, growing up to 30mm in length. Root feeding grubs include; white curl grub, scarab beetle larvae, lawn beetle larvae or cockchafer. ANSWER: Adult beetles don't cause any significant damage. Cockchafers are also called May bugs because of the time of year when they tend to emerge. The figeater beetle (Cotinis mutabilis) is a green-colored beetle that is commonly found in yards, compost heaps, and mulch.Belonging to the beetle family Scarabaeidae, “fig” beetles have a semi-glossy green shell with orange-colored edges.Turning the beetles over, you will notice striking metallic green belly and legs. Cockchafers, also known as Maybugs, have distinctive, fan-shaped antennae. Museum scientists are working hard to understand and fight against the threats facing British wildlife.Â. The adult beetles have reddish-brown wing cases and a black head with short fan-like antennae. During that time, they look for a mate and fly into the tree tops to feed on leaves. She said, 'They've certainly been seen in April this year around the country.'. Other than being a nuisance, the beetles are not harmful. Males have seven ‘feathers’ to each antennae while females have six. Adults: cockchafer beetles are large and bulky, growing up to 30mm in length. There are two species of cockchafer found in the UK: the common cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) which is found in the south of the UK, and the northern cockchafer (Melolontha hippocastani) which is found in northern England, Scotland and Ireland. They are short-lived and do not bite or sting. Adult Cockchafers are found on and around trees and shrubs in gardens, parks, field hedgerows and woodland margins, feeding on leaves and flowers. Cockchafers, Melolontha melolontha, are relatively large beetles belonging to the scarab family. Discover some standout British beetles, including a particularly vibrant ladybird and a rare rainbow-coloured leaf beetle. For many, the Museum is a place that inspires learning, gives purpose and provides hope. Try 3 issues of BBC Wildlife Magazine for just £5! The good news is that the beetles, which are a scarab beetle in the dung beetle family, cannot bite. These small and slender members of the beetle family are a common pest usually associated with roses, but they do eat other types of plants as well. The most recognisable of these in the UK is the Cock Chafer, a large beetle which you’ll see between May and June. Get email updates about our news, science, exhibitions, events, products, services and fundraising activities. In dung beetles, male and female antennae are very similar, suggesting that both are attracted to faecal odours, so can locate a mate at a pat. But Stuart Hine from the Museum’s Identification and Advisory Service (IAS), who is often asked by the public to identify them, confirms that they most certainly don't sting. Their undersides are covered with fine white hairs. These are not to be mixed up with the “witchetty grub”. Amazing encounter with an Enormous Flying Cockchafer Beetle The common cockchafer differs from similar chafer species by having a pointed pygidium, which is a segment at the end of their abdomen. The bumbling brown beetles which swarm through the dusk of late May evenings and bang against lighted window panes have several names – cockchafers, May bugs or June bugs. Our future depends on nature, but we are not doing enough to protect our life support system. Â, British wildlife is under threat. Hence their nickname, the June Bug. The grubs are white and C-shaped with six legs and reddish-brown heads.Â. 'They have a segment called the pygidium at the end of their abdomen, which is long and pointed,' Hine said. There are nearly 20 species of chafer in Britain, most do not cause problems in gardens; The larvae have white bodies, brown heads and three pairs of legs the largest species, the cockchafer or Maybug (Melolontha melolontha) can reach 50mm in length. Cockchafer guide: how to identify and where to see, Stag beetle guide: how to identify, and how to help them in your garden, Best plants to grow for pollinators in your wildlife garden, Volunteer interview: Running a beetle recording scheme, A Vulture Landscape – 12 months in Extremadura, Garden butterflies to spot in March and April. Chafer grubs, dung beetles and stag beetles all have similar looking grubs. Despite their clumsiness, these winged beetles are destructive, for they find their food by stripping foliage from trees. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. No need to register, buy now! It has characteristic fanned antennae, a black body, and brown legs and wingcases. If more than 5-10 grubs are found per section, chafer control is recommended. Males have seven ‘feathers’ to each antennae while females have six. 'It looks vicious but is actually a tool for females to lay eggs into the ground.'. Discover the bioluminescent beetles putting on night-time light shows in Britain. © Getty. Scarab beetles (including the chafers and dung beetles) have characteristic antennae in which the final segments have fan-like extensions. That said, the problems caused in lawns are most commonly caused by the Garden Chafer and the Welsh Chafer. Mostly affect flats and high rise buildings. Cockchafers tend to live between four to five weeks. A chemist who collects insects as a pastime has spotted what generations of British entomologists have missed: a native British beetle, living in ancient Scottish pine forests. Privacy notice. ', ... or that it helped you learn something new. This handsome chap is the Common cockchafer, also referred to as the May bug, the Spang beetle or the Billy witch. Dr Grove suggests collecting the cockchafers and putting them outside where a chook or bird would enjoy eating them. By entering your details, you are agreeing to Discover Wildlife terms and conditions and privacy policy. The largest and most conspicuous of the almost 90 species of scarabs found in the British Isles is the Cockchafer (or May-Bug). They are short-lived and do not bite or sting. The beetles themselves don’t cause any damage at all to your lawn. Their colour range from light brown/grey to dark brown/black. Because of the buzz of its flight, this nickname was used for Germany’s V-1 flying bomb in World War II. Grubs eat the roots of a variety of plants and in large numbers can become pests damaging pastures and crops. Mostly affect flats and high rise buildings. Rose Chafer larvae are equally adept at destroying plant life, including grass. Bug bite pictures can be purchased at bookstores via medical books pertaining to bug bites or dermatological issues. The common cockchafer is the UK's largest scarab beetle (scarabs include dung beetles and chafers). Insects usually need to sniff out two things – food sources and mates. Cockchafers have caused their fair share of historical surprises, in 1320, an Avignon court sentenced cockchafers to exile in a special reserve – the beetles did not comply. Cockchafers spend most of their lives (three to four years) underground as larvae, or grubs. Fan-Shaped antennae measure approximately 1.5cm in length and can get caught in lamp shades, pronotum scutellum. Dr Grove suggests collecting the cockchafers and putting them outside where a chook or would. Challenge of our age could mistake it for you and tailor our digital advertising on third-party platforms folded instead! 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