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