Cockchafer Melolontha melolontha
This large flying beetle, also known as the may-bug, is easily recognisable with its feathery antennae, pointy abdomen and mahogany coloured wing cases and can be spotted between the months of May to July.
Conservation status in Norfolk
The decline of this beetle may be due to modern farm machinery killing the larvae during soil cultivation. Cockchafers are an important prey item for larger bat species and further declines in this and other large beetle species could be detrimental to bats.
How to help
Should a cockchafer fly into your window at night, switch off the house lights so it can re-orientate itself.
Cockchafer; Bob Ward
Cockchafer: Dick Belson
Cockchafer; Robert Smith
Information on the Cockchafer
How to recognise
With its feathery antennae, pointed abdomen, reddish-brown wing cases, brown legs and black thorax, this large beetle (measuring around 3cm in length) is easily recognised. The wing cases, which are also known as elytra, are ribbed and covered in tiny grey hairs giving the beetle a dusty appearance. The larvae, also known as rookworms, are a cream white grub with a brown head.
Where to see
Favouring gardens, woodlands and farmland they are found where there are deciduous trees for the adults to feed on and fields and gardens where the larvae can live. At Barnham Cross Common, Thetford, cockchafers reportedly stopped play, when the cricketers were driven from their pitch by the sheer number of this large flying beetle.
When to see
Also known as may-bugs, as this is the month the adults first appear, their nocturnal habits mean they can be seen at dusk gathering around trees and bushes in quite large numbers as they feed on plants. From May to July adults can be seen flying in search of a mate.
When the larvae are approximately 5cm long (this may take approximately 2 years) they move down into a cell in the soil where they pupate, they emerge in October but remain in the soil until spring.
Did you know?
In Norfolk the cockchafer has many local names such as chovy, mitchamador, kittywitch and midsummer dor.
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