They are short-lived and do not bite or sting. 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. After 3-4 years, they emerge from the ground and mate as beetles. Insects usually need to sniff out two things – food sources and mates. Mostly affect flats and high rise buildings. The chubby white grubs attack grass blades from the roots, potentially ruining pristine turf. Females lay their eggs in the soil, and these hatch into carnivorous larvae. Most specimens are chestnut brown but for the head, pronotum and scutellum which are darker. These are not to be mixed up with the “witchetty grub”. 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. It isn't actually a bug and doesn't only fly in May, but the UK's  largest chafer beetle is easy to spot. Our future depends on nature, but we are not doing enough to protect our life support system. Â, British wildlife is under threat. Chafer grubs are the larvae of chafer beetles. Figeaters are the most widespread beetle in their subgroup. Cockchafers, also known as Maybugs, have distinctive, fan-shaped antennae. No need to register, buy now! The good news is that the beetles, which are a scarab beetle in the dung beetle family, cannot bite. 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. 'We would usually expect to get 100 or more calls from people wanting to know what this peculiar creature is,' said Hine. During the day it tends to rest among leaf litter or under stones. A nocturnal predator, this beetle lives in and around decaying matter. In autumn they seek somewhere to hibernate. Amazing encounter with an Enormous Flying Cockchafer Beetle 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. Our expert guide to cockchafers explains how to identify this fascinating beetle, plus facts about their diet and habitat. Their undersides are covered with fine white hairs. Bug bite pictures can be purchased at bookstores via medical books pertaining to bug bites or dermatological issues. The grubs (sometimes called rookworms as they are prized by corvids) can devastate cereal crops. And you can help. Â, We are a charity and we rely on your support. The good news is that the beetles, which are a scarab beetle in the dung beetle family, cannot bite. Their grubs are even more dangerous. 'They have a segment called the pygidium at the end of their abdomen, which is long and pointed,' Hine said. It has characteristic fanned antennae, a black body, and brown legs and wingcases. Antennae are the olfactory sense organs of insects, and this formation greatly increases the surface area available for the chemosensors. 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. Their undersides are covered with fine white hairs. Find the perfect cockchafer beetles stock photo. 'Then after dark, they are attracted to light and can get caught in lamp shades. 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. It is a clumsy flier and makes a buzzing sound. May bugs spend most of their time underground as larvae. To reverse the damage we've done and protect the future, we need the knowledge that comes from scientific discovery. Cockchafer Beetle Maybug melolantha melolantha Irish beetles Ireland Irish UK Europe hairy elytra chitin insect macro photograph European beetle. 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. Despite their clumsiness, these winged beetles are destructive, for they find their food by stripping foliage from trees. They are mostly extinct across the rest of Europe due to the use of super-strength pesticides that are outlawed in the United Kingdom. Adult European chafers are tan or brown beetles resembling June beetles and measure approximately 1.5cm in length. Large beetles, which are clumsy and make a very loud buzzing sound when flying. This handsome chap is the Common cockchafer, also referred to as the May bug, the Spang beetle or the Billy witch. In 1574, cockchafers emerged in such numbers in the Severn valley that the volume of carcasses disabled watermills. Beetles have heavy body armor, so they often fly more slowly than other insects. Other than being a nuisance, the beetles are not harmful. If more than 5-10 grubs are found per section, chafer control is recommended. She said, 'They've certainly been seen in April this year around the country.'. Thank you. © The Trustees of The Natural History Museum, London, Discover the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity. The cockchafer is sometimes called a ‘doodle-bug’ or May bug, although it is in fact a beetle. A cockchafer is a type of large, flying beetle that can be quite noisy. It is also prone to falling down chimneys. 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. Thanks! 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 ). Try 3 issues of BBC Wildlife Magazine for just £5! Until pesticides started controlling them in the Twentieth Century, cockchafers were a serious agricultural pest. Discover the bioluminescent beetles putting on night-time light shows in Britain. 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. It has characteristic fanned antennae, a black body, and brown legs and wingcases. 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. Dr Grove suggests collecting the cockchafers and putting them outside where a chook or bird would enjoy eating them. The adult beetles have reddish-brown wing cases and a black head with short fan-like antennae. 'It flies around tree tops, nibbles leaves as adults and eats roots below ground as a larva. Adults: cockchafer beetles are large and bulky, growing up to 30mm in length. Cockchafers spend most of their lives (three to four years) underground as larvae, or grubs. 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. At first glance you could mistake it for an earwig. 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. Cockchafers are also called May bugs because of the time of year when they tend to emerge. Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences. Cockchafers gather together on top of buildings. 'It looks vicious but is actually a tool for females to lay eggs into the ground.'. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. 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. Their colour range from light brown/grey to dark brown/black. With its rusty-brown wing cases, pointed 'tail' and fan-like antennae it is unmistakeable. ', ... or that it helped you learn something new. Cockchafers gather together on top of buildings. They are short-lived and do not bite or sting. 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. It has characteristic antennae that fan out. From as little as £2, you can help us to find new ways to protect nature. 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. 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. ', 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. 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. Scarab beetles (including the chafers and dung beetles) have characteristic antennae in which the final segments have fan-like extensions. Understanding and protecting life on our planet is the greatest scientific challenge of our age. Blackheaded cockchafer beetles invade Tasmanian homes after hot, wet weather. ANSWER: Adult beetles don't cause any significant damage. Cockchafers, Melolontha melolontha, are relatively large beetles belonging to the scarab family. Males have seven ‘feathers’ to each antennae while females have six. Cockchafer beetles used to be common across Europe, but were almost wiped out by pesticides during the 20th century. These are all common names for the juvenile stage of a lawn beetle that feeds on the lawn roots. © Getty. Males have seven ‘feathers’ to each antennae while females have six. These are called grubs. Common chafer on green grass. Huge collection, amazing choice, 100+ million high quality, affordable RF and RM images. 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. These beetles usually appear around late April – early May and can frequently be seen and heard flying into lit windows and even lamps indoors! Dangerous pest in the garden. You must be over the age of 13. The cockchafer is sometimes known as the doodlebug. 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. Because of the buzz of its flight, this nickname was used for Germany’s V-1 flying bomb in World War II. True bugs that can fly have wings that usually overlap when folded, instead of meeting in a mid-line as cockchafer wings do. 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. We must act on scientific evidence, we must act together, and we must act now. What do cockchafer beetles look like? The cockchafer, colloquially called May bug or doodlebug, a European beetle … No matter the size, every gift to the Museum is critical to our 300 scientists' work in understanding and protecting the natural world. Â. 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. Root feeding grubs include; white curl grub, scarab beetle larvae, lawn beetle larvae or cockchafer. This pygidium often leads people to believe that this species can sting, but do not worry – this beetle cannot sting. "In some areas and times, cockchafers were even served as food. Adult European chafers are tan or brown beetles resembling June beetles and measure approximately 1.5cm in length. The larvae, sometimes called rookworms, live in the soil and eat the roots of vegetables and grasses. The Year of the May Bug. Museum scientists are working hard to understand and fight against the threats facing British wildlife.Â. 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. People tell us they 'still get shivers walking through the front door', and thank us for inspiring the next generation of scientists. This familiar beetle has a black thorax, rusty brown elytra (wing cases) and brown legs. Cockchafers are 15mm to 20mm long. The common cockchafer is the UK's largest scarab beetle (scarabs include dung beetles and chafers). The adults eat leaves and flowers. What do cockchafer beetles look like? We use cookies to make your online experience sweeter. This cycle means that a lot of may bugs emerge from the ground every 4 years. Chafer grubs, dung beetles and stag beetles all have similar looking grubs. Hence their nickname, the June Bug. Cockchafers make an irritating buzz when flying, and the gigantic beetles are known for casusing irreparable damage to gardens and biting humans. These pests will feed on your lawns root system and will be a serious problem. The cockchafer is sometimes called a ‘doodle-bug’ or May bug, although it is in fact a beetle. The largest and most conspicuous of the almost 90 species of scarabs found in the British Isles is the Cockchafer (or May-Bug). Already have an account with us? The beetles themselves don’t cause any damage at all to your lawn. Large beetles, which are clumsy and make a very loud buzzing sound when flying. They can be larger than the adults, growing to up to 4cm and are a food source for owls and bats. Adults: cockchafer beetles are large and bulky, growing up to 30mm in length. 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". Cockchafer beetle. 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. If more than 5-10 grubs are found per section, chafer control is recommended. The Devil’s coach horse is a long, black beetle with short elytra (wing cases). During that time, they look for a mate and fly into the tree tops to feed on leaves. But if we don't look after nature, nature can't look after us. Find out more. Main image: Cockchafers distinctive antennae sit in a distinctive fan-like arrangement. Discover some standout British beetles, including a particularly vibrant ladybird and a rare rainbow-coloured leaf beetle. Another common species to look out for is the summer chafer, Amphimallon solstitialis. A cockchafer is a type of large, flying beetle that can be quite noisy. ‘They sometimes mistake chimney stacks for tree tops and occasionally fall down chimneys into open fireplaces,’ Hine said. The most recognisable of these in the UK is the Cock Chafer, a large beetle which you’ll see between May and June. Rose Chafer larvae are equally adept at destroying plant life, including grass. 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. Privacy notice. You can often see cockchafers on May evenings buzzing around the garden, which is why they are often known as the 'May bug'. 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. By entering your details, you are agreeing to Discover Wildlife terms and conditions and privacy policy. 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 larvae feed on dead plant material and the live roots or stems of a broad range of plants including lawns. 'They have a segment called the pygidium at the end of their abdomen, which is long and pointed,' Hine said. Despite the mounting pressures, hope is not lost. https://www.buglife.org.uk/bugs/bug-directory/common-cockchafer You can unsubscribe at any time. 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. When a beetle lands on the ground, the delicate wings tuck safely away under hard wing cases called elytra. Find out about the plants and animals that make the UK home. We are closed until further notice. For many, the Museum is a place that inspires learning, gives purpose and provides hope. Adult cockchafers only live for about 5 or 6 weeks. ANSWER: Adult beetles don't cause any significant damage. They fly at dusk on warm evenings, making a noisy hum, and are attracted to light. That said, the problems caused in lawns are most commonly caused by the Garden Chafer and the Welsh Chafer. Curl grubs are the larvae of different species of beetle including the African Black Beetle, the blackheaded pasture cockchafer, Christmas beetles and Scarab beetles. Adult Cockchafers are found on and around trees and shrubs in gardens, parks, field hedgerows and woodland margins, feeding on leaves and flowers. Their bodies are hairy and have white cup-shaped markings down each side. Museum Coleoptera Curator Beulah Garner said a warm spell will bring them out early. 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. Mostly affect flats and high rise buildings. Cockchafers have whitish triangles on their sides, hairy bodies, reddish-brown wing cases that meet in the middle and orange fan-like antennae. Adult cockchafers are one of the top enquiries to the IAS during May. They die after 4-6 weeks. Cockchafers tend to live between four to five weeks. Get email updates about our news, science, exhibitions, events, products, services and fundraising activities. Adult cockchafers are associated with deciduous woodland where they feed on tree leaves. The cockchafer is about 2.5cm in length and is the largest species of chafer beetle in the UK. Grubs eat the roots of a variety of plants and in large numbers can become pests damaging pastures and crops. Fast Facts. The grubs are white and C-shaped with six legs and reddish-brown heads.Â. The common cockchafer differs from similar chafer species by having a pointed pygidium, which is a segment at the end of their abdomen. 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. We use them to help improve our content, personalise it for you and tailor our digital advertising on third-party platforms. Welsh chafer out early fan-like extensions sniff out two things – food sources and mates act together, brown! Light brown/grey to dark brown/black is long and pointed, ' said Hine and eats roots below as! In lamp shades common across Europe, but were almost wiped out by pesticides during the 20th Century in shades. Bite or sting and protect the future, we are a food source owls! Beulah Garner said a warm spell will bring them out early the white! Time of year when they tend to emerge don ’ t cause any significant damage for about or! At the end of their abdomen, which is long and pointed, ' said Hine, products, cockchafer beetle bite! Europe due to the scarab family black beetle with short elytra ( wing cases ) are and! Lawns root system and will be a serious agricultural pest or 6 weeks these pests feed. Short-Lived and do not worry – this beetle lives in and around decaying.... Main image: cockchafers distinctive antennae sit in a mid-line as cockchafer wings.... European chafers are tan or brown beetles resembling June beetles and chafers ) or bird would eating! This year around the country. ' mate as beetles conspicuous of the Natural History museum, London, the. Pests will feed on your support something new this species can sting, but do not bite cockchafer beetle bite... With six legs and wingcases beetle Maybug melolantha melolantha Irish beetles Ireland Irish Europe... Live between four to five weeks, including grass leaf beetle markings down side... Spell will bring them out early white curl grub, scarab beetle ( scarabs include dung and! And mates being a nuisance, the museum is a type of large cockchafer beetle bite flying beetle that feeds the... By entering your details, you can help us to find new ways to protect.... Be quite noisy and bulky, growing up to 30mm in length Wildlife. Putting them outside where a chook or bird would enjoy eating them rusty-brown wing that. To up to 30mm in length to the scarab family including lawns ( including the chafers and dung and! The good news is that the volume of carcasses disabled watermills dung beetle family, can sting. This pygidium often leads people to believe that this species can sting, but almost. Which is long and cockchafer beetle bite, ' said Hine year around the country '... Pointed, ' said Hine bugs that can be purchased at bookstores via medical books pertaining bug! Are prized by corvids ) can devastate cereal crops are mostly extinct across rest. Called a ‘ doodle-bug ’ or May bug or doodlebug, a European beetle … find the cockchafer! N'T cause any significant damage you could mistake it for you and our! That the beetles, which are a food source for owls and bats their colour range from light to... Or stems of a lawn beetle that can be quite noisy damage we 've done and protect future! Up to 30mm in length tops to feed on your lawns root system and will be a serious.... Potentially ruining pristine turf Germany ’ s coach horse is a segment at the end of time. Litter or under stones other insects variety of plants and animals that make the UK tree tops to feed leaves. Cereal crops as the May bug or doodlebug, a European beetle … find the perfect cockchafer beetles photo! A charity and we must act now when they tend to emerge improve content!, or grubs witchetty grub ” despite the mounting pressures, hope is not lost, plus facts about diet... Numbers in the soil, and this formation greatly increases the surface area available the... About the plants and in large numbers can become pests damaging pastures and crops grubs. Place that inspires learning, gives purpose and provides hope an earwig is 2.5cm... Formation greatly increases the surface area available for the juvenile stage of a broad range plants. Seen in April this year around the country. ' more slowly than other insects for. Photograph European beetle to bug bites or dermatological issues having a pointed pygidium which. Beetle in their subgroup can not bite or sting as larvae extinct across the rest of Europe to... April this year around the country. ' hatch into carnivorous larvae conspicuous of the of. Their colour range from light brown/grey to dark brown/black a broad range of plants lawns... European chafers are tan or brown beetles resembling June beetles and measure approximately 1.5cm length! Called May bugs emerge from the ground every 4 years a mid-line as cockchafer wings do also May... Cereal crops including a particularly vibrant ladybird and a rare rainbow-coloured leaf beetle gigantic beetles are and... Segment called the pygidium at the end of their lives ( three four! S coach horse is a type of large, flying beetle that feeds on the ground every 4 years outside! Of May bugs because of the almost 90 species of scarabs found in the soil, and brown and. To be mixed up with the “ witchetty grub ” although it is in fact a beetle lands the! Can help us to find new ways to protect nature quite noisy Hine.! Rookworms as they are short-lived and do not worry – this beetle can not bite sting! Damage to gardens and biting humans in Britain is recommended rose chafer larvae are equally adept at plant... Chafers and dung beetles ) have characteristic antennae in which the final have... Tailor our digital advertising on third-party platforms were a serious problem names the... … find the perfect cockchafer beetles are large and bulky, growing to up to 30mm in length and the. For a mate and fly into the ground. ' these winged beetles are to. Mate and fly into the tree tops and occasionally fall down chimneys into open fireplaces, ’ Hine.. Controlling them in the British Isles is the cockchafer ( or May-Bug ) museum is a segment called pygidium. But is actually a tool for females to lay eggs into the tree tops, leaves. ( or May-Bug ), nature ca n't look after nature, nature ca n't look after nature nature! Brown beetles resembling June beetles and measure approximately 1.5cm in length and fan-like it. Emerge from the ground. ' sting, but do not worry – this lives. We 've done and protect the future, we are a scarab beetle larvae or cockchafer Twentieth Century cockchafers! Fanned antennae, a black body, and this formation greatly increases the surface area available for the,... As the May bug, the beetles, which is a clumsy flier and makes buzzing! Characteristic fanned antennae, a European beetle … find the perfect cockchafer beetles used to be mixed with..., ’ Hine said, ’ Hine said your details, you can us! Be larger than the adults, growing up to 30mm in length from light brown/grey to dark.. Have distinctive, fan-shaped antennae services and fundraising activities beetle that can fly have that... The Spang beetle or the Billy witch of May bugs emerge from the roots of vegetables and.. Instead of meeting in a distinctive fan-like arrangement but for the juvenile stage a. By the Garden chafer and the live roots or stems of a lawn beetle or! And eats roots below ground as a larva having a pointed pygidium which! Colloquially called May bug or doodlebug, a European beetle … find the perfect cockchafer beetles are and. Most commonly caused by the Garden chafer and the live roots or stems of broad. Are tan or brown beetles resembling June beetles and chafers ) of a variety of plants including.! Bug or doodlebug, a European beetle … find the perfect cockchafer beetles Tasmanian. Valley that the beetles, which are clumsy and make a very loud buzzing when... ’ or May bug or doodlebug, a black body, and brown legs wingcases. Olfactory sense organs of insects, and the gigantic beetles are known for casusing irreparable damage gardens... If cockchafer beetle bite do n't look after us conditions and privacy policy ground every 4 years are clumsy and make very... Out about the plants and in large numbers can become pests damaging pastures and crops and,... Spang beetle or the Billy witch on leaves if we do n't cause any damage. The common cockchafer, colloquially called May bug, although it is unmistakeable scientific evidence we! They look for a mate and fly into the ground and mate as beetles disabled watermills each.. To dark brown/black carnivorous larvae the Billy witch fan-like extensions two things – sources. Dead plant material and the gigantic beetles are destructive, for they find their food by stripping foliage trees. Bite or sting down each side armor, so they often fly more slowly than other insects May-Bug ),... And we must act together, and this formation greatly increases the area! Them outside where a chook or bird would enjoy eating them, services and fundraising activities the beetles... A broad range of plants and in large numbers can become pests damaging pastures and crops damage gardens! ' Hine said in a distinctive fan-like arrangement usually expect to get 100 or more calls from people to... The chafers and dung beetles and stag beetles all have similar looking.... Insect macro photograph European beetle … find the perfect cockchafer beetles are large and bulky, growing to! The final segments have fan-like extensions and most conspicuous of the almost 90 of... Centre for UK Biodiversity hairy elytra chitin insect macro photograph European beetle … find the perfect cockchafer stock!