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The Cockchafer is a large beetle with an enormous appetite

Posted in Insects, Nature, Wildlife on Monday, 17 March 2014

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This edited article about insects first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 592 published on 19 May 1973.

Cockchafer,  picture, image, illustration


The Cockchafer or May Bug is a large, harmless beetle which buzzes noisily and sometimes bumbles indoors through open windows on warm May evenings.

Every few years the beetles appear in huge numbers and become a serious pest especially on the continent of Europe. They do much damage to trees, especially elms and oaks, the leaves of which they eat voraciously. There was such a large outbreak of cockchafers in Austria in 1912 that over 1,000 tons of these beetles were collected and destroyed.

The female lays her eggs in the ground and these hatch out into grubs or larvae that live for as long as three years, feeding on the roots of grasses and other plants. The Cockchafer grub is about two inches long, fat and has a shiny brown head armed with strong jaws like a pair of pincers. Although it has six legs it is helpless if placed on a flat surface because its large and fleshy U shaped body causes it to fall over on its side.

The adult Cockchafers, which live for only a few weeks, have very conspicuous “feelers” or antennae which are highly sensitive to sound and smells. These feelers are spread out like fans when in use.

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