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Rose Chafer – Friend or Foe ?

The internet is a wonderful thing – for getting muddled. We found when we visited Canada a couple of years ago that our transatlantic cousins call a Robin a bird with a red chest, but the size of a blackbird. Following a discussion at TOP about Rose Chafers and cockchafers, I found a similar problem with definitions online.

It all started with larvae we were turning up in TOP compost – how do you tell between the two ? It is a bug, so the best policy is to ask Mark. Apparently Cockchafers are more active, and attack roots and vegetation, Rose chafer eggs are laid in compost, and the larvae tend to lie in a tight ‘C’ shape and wriggle less. Cock Chafers tend to lay in undisturbed ground, amongst roots, the larvae of a Stag Beetle is very similar, but larger. They are almost exclusively found in rotten wood, mostly treestumps, though we found them once in our woodchip paths.┬áTheir main food appears to be helping creating our compost, and they get a bad press.

Of course, with 2,500 species of chafer, and because some eat the odd leaf, the conventional wisdom is to zap the lot with pesticides or handpicking, but what do these grubs create ? The cockchafer is also known as the Maybug – now you know it, and the larvae, also called rookworms can live underground for up to 4 years. The Rose Chafer, Rose Beetle or Goldsmith Beetle on the other hand is a metallic green colour, growing to about 2cm long.

Pictures from Nick Lovens website in 2002- since moved and expanded with lots of lovely images http://www.nicksspiders.com/insects/scarabaeidae.htm

Apparently the American Rose Chafer is brown, a voracious feeder, a completely different beast. The adult European Rose Chafer beetle feeds almost exclusively on nectar and pollen. The Cock Chafer eats foliage, buds, flowers and fruits of blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, cabbage, beans, beet and pepper. One of my sources suggested the European version is found in southern and central Europe and is uncommon in the UK. We have loads of them in Oakdale, both in my own garden, and at TOP.

And the family name ? Scarab beetles. Now that has a pedigree back to Egyptian times. At TOPs we’re prepared to loose the odd petal to feed this pretty visitor.

Andy H