© Stuart M Bennett 2009
Melolontha melolontha
(Cockchafer or May Bug)

The name Chafer is given to a number of beetles, all of which have distinctive fan-like antennae, they emerge from the soil and flu in May or early June, often tapping on lighted windows of house at night when they fly into them.

The most familiar is the Cockchafer (pictured above) which is otherwise known as the May Bug, because it is about in May. The number of calls that pest controllers get complaining that people have cockroaches are numerous and it is only when they get on site they find that the journey has been for nothing, because the offending creature is a May bug.

The larvae are large white grubs, sometimes called Rookworms, with greatly swollen abdomens, and brownish heads bearing formidable curved jaws.

They usually live in pasture soils, feeding voraciously on the roots of the grass, sometimes they remove so many roots that the grass can be rolled up like a carpet. Regular ploughing to eliminate the grubs is necessary if the field is turned over to corn, otherwise the grubs will certainly damage the crop.

Below is a picture of a May Bug in flight showing how the elytra are folded out of the way of the hind wings. This applies to all of the beetles which can fly.


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