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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Cockchafer Facts You’ll Never Forget

Forest cockchafer or common cockchafer facts reveal that both can be handled or held by humans

The cockchafer or cockchafer may bug, scientific name Melolontha, is one kind of beetle bug commonly found in parts of Britain. Other than that, there are multiple names by which people might know these beetles, like the may bug and doodlebug. These bugs have distinctively shaped antennae. They got the name may bug because these beetles are mostly seen in the month of May and are one of Britain’s bulkiest beetles. The Cockchafer bug belongs to the species of beetles, more specifically European beetles. There was a time when the bugs or beetles were in abundance throughout Europe and were a major pest in the periodical years of 'mass flight'. It has been eradicated with time with the high use of pesticides or cockchafer insecticides. Common cockchafers are one of the bugs or beetles from the three main beetle families present. In this article, we will learn about every stage of the beetles' life such as larvae, adults, how exactly they survive in wildlife, and what are the important roles of females for these insects to grow. So, let's get started and explore these flying cockchafer bugs!

For more bug fact files, check out our articles on the atlas beetle and puss moth.

Cockchafer Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a cockchafer?

Cockchafers are large noisy flying beetles that are to be found in most of the parts of Europe. There are two types of cockchafer that could be found in Europe, firstly the common cockchafer and secondly, the northern cockchafer.

What class of animal does a cockchafer belong to?

Like all the other insects, these cockchafers come under the classification of Insecta.

How many cockchafers are there in the world?

These wildlife insects are most commonly found in European countries, but there is a very small chance that you can them in any other part of the world. In Europe, there is no exact count of how many of these bugs are present.

Where does a cockchafer live?

They are mostly seen living throughout temperate Europe and the continental United States.

What is a cockchafer's habitat?

The habitat of these species consists of areas with soft, shaded soil. Other than that they can be found in agricultural areas.

Who do cockchafers live with?

They can be seen mostly living in packs like other insects.

How long does a cockchafer live?

The average lifespan of the common cockchafer and the northern cockchafer in wildlife may range from three to four years (larvae), four to six weeks (beetle). Both larvae and adults beetles range differently.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction cycle of cockchafers fly is a bit confusing and may consist of different stages and is a lengthy process. First of all the reproduction process is mainly affected by the season and hormones, as the time of day and season trigger endocrines in adult females. Males have to detect powerful pheromones with their large antennae which are spread by females. The mating season also comes when they are seen mostly i.e. in the month of may to sometimes the start of June. Females have to put the eggs in a path that is typically opposite to the pre-mating flight. After that, early larvae development takes place which goes on for approximately five to six weeks long. During the time of winter, larvae show a slow development, and in mid-April, they suddenly spring back to activity and start eating until the time of October. After that, the fully mature adult cockchafers do not become active until spring.

What is their conservation status?

These bugs don't need any kind of conservation status as it is pretty common. Therefore, its conservation status is listed as Least Concern.

Cockchafer Fun Facts

What do cockchafers look like?

In terms of the physical description of these may bugs, they are not much big in size. The fully grown adults are about 25-30 mm. The adult cockchafer beetle usually has a dark head with a shiny black pronotum covered by short hairs. The abdomen is slightly dull black with a long, flat pygidium. Their eyes have acute vision and are multifaceted, with 5,475 facets per eye. The antennae of males are bigger than of females with a large, fan-like club protruding from each terminus. The wing span size may range from lengths of about 40-46 mm with a certain amount of dull white body colored black at the abdominal extremity.  The grubs of the cockchafers are in an arc shape and they have a large head with strong, grabbing mandibles.

In some parts of the world, cockchafer grubs are eaten raw or eaten after cooking.

How cute are they?

No, they are not at all cute in any terms.

How do they communicate?

Though there is no certain type of communication skills that are used by these bugs, you can hear them buzzing around also known as the cockchafer call commonly.

How big is a cockchafer?

The adult bug is not so big and can range up to about 25-30 mm in size. In comparison to other beetles, they are medium size.

How fast can a cockchafer move?

The flying speed of the cockchafer beetle is up to 5 mph (8 kph). Only some of the beetle bugs are known to fly and the cockchafer is among one of those rare ones.

How much does a cockchafer weigh?

The large cockchafer may weigh up to 0.4-0.9 g. The common cockchafer is known to be the lightest weighted in the family of beetles.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is no name given to the males and females species of European cockchafer.

What would you call a baby cockchafer?

We could call them a cockchafer worm or cockchafer larvae because, in the end, the baby of all these insects are simply larvae.

What do they eat?

The eating habits of these cockchafer beetles usually consist of fruit trees, leaves, particularly oaks, sweet chestnut, beech, plum, maple, and walnut trees. Usually, the adult gets out in the time of April and May in search of food. On the other hand, the larvae practice a different type of eating habit which consists of grain, beet roots tree, and grass.

Are they poisonous?

No, these insects are not at all poisonous. Other than them, there are several species of beetle or insects that might be poisonous to other animals.

Would they make a good pet?

No, cockchafers are not meant to be a pet. They would not make a very good or entertaining pet so it's unlikely that anyone would love to have this insect as a pet.

Did you know...

How did the Cockchafer beetle get its name? The answer is that the name 'Cockchafer' is Old English for 'big beetle' while 'Kafer' is German for 'beetle'.

The beetle belongs to the Scarab beetle family ­of Scarabaeidae.

Some people think that these bugs might bite but in reality, they don't.

They have a pointer in the females which helps them to push their eggs deep into the soil.

There are many insecticides you can use to get rid of cockchafers. To get rid of the grubs, you could either pour a mixture of biodegradable detergent and water on your lawn which will bring them up to the soil's surface and make them easy prey, or you could simply ensure your lawn is watered well preventing the eggs from being laid there in the first place.

Are cockchafers dangerous?

No, these insects are very harmless and rarely cause any kind of environmental damage to the wildlife. They might ruin your garden as they rummage through the foliage though.

Do people eat cockchafers?

In the time of  Middle Ages, people made soup from may bugs or sold them as sweetened treats. Aside from that, the grubs i.e. the larvae of these adults, are known to be edible.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including eastern eyed click beetle, or giant leopard moth.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our cockchafer coloring pages.

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