Cockchafer

  • Scientific name: Melolontha melolontha
  • Type: Insects

Key information

This familiar beetle has a black thorax, rusty brown elytra (wing cases) and brown legs. It has characteristic antennae that fan out.

You can often see cockchafers on May evenings buzzing around the garden, which is why they are often known as the 'May bug'. As large, noisy insects they can be a little frightening, but are actually harmless to humans. However, they can considerably damage garden plants and crops.

The larvae are called rookworms, because rooks are said to be particularly fond of them. They are fat, creamy-white grubs with brown heads. They live in the soil for about three years eating plant roots. They especially like cereal crops and grasses and can do a great deal of damage.

What they eat:

Adults chew flowers and leaves. Larvae eat plant roots.

Measurements:

Length:
Up to 30mm

Identifying features:

Natural habitats: Flower border Hedge Herb garden Meadow area Patio Shrub Woodland area

Where and when to see them

Humming loudly around the garden on late spring evenings, often crashing noisily into lit windows. You may see the larvae when digging in the garden. Also in parks and woodland margins.

At night from May to July.

  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec