Matt Dodds's picture

Is this a Noble Chaffer larvae?

Observed: 22nd June 2011 By: Matt Dodds
June 21st 2011 orchard course 022
June 21st 2011 orchard course 022 1

Hi everyone. This larvae was found in a rot hole in a 90 year old traditional orchard of Aylesbury Prune trees. Can anyone tell me what it is? There appeared to be some frass in the rot hole too. I was hoping it might be a noble chaffer but haven't really got a clue.

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Matt Smith's picture


Firstly - we have the same first picture on another observation at with a totaly improbable location, so I am slightly confused about what picture goes with what observation - though looking at it I think it is someone messing about with the picture from this observation.

I looked at the other observation and thought that the larvae could either be a Cockchafer or small Stag Beetle larvae as I assumed it was dug up. Seeing the jaws of the larva in second picture and knowing that the larvae came out of an old apple tree does raise the exciting possibility that it could be Noble Chafer, though I could not be 100% certain until I had a look at the larvae or the frass.

Matt - can you contact me about this via e-mail at - I am on the Noble Chafer BAP Steering group and have done a lot of NC surveying in orchards, it sounds like it would be well worth me having a look at the site if this is possible.

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andy howard's picture

Noble chafer Larvae

see below

markgtelfer's picture


Matt and Matt, Please keep me in the loop on this too - I live about 15 minutes walk from the location! I too have done some orchard survey for Noble Chafer but nothing like as much as Matt S.
Thanks, Mark

Matt Smith's picture

More pics

I have just had an e-mail from PTES (Lead Partner for the Noble Chafer BAP) with these pictures and a couple of slightly fuzzy pictures of what appears to be large amounts of frass. It's looking more and more likely that this is indeed Noble Chafer, so I am really keen to visit the orchard to confirm this. This would be a very interesting "dot" on the map for the species.

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andy howard's picture

Noble Chafer Larvae

Dear All,

I hope i can help a bit more.

It was not dug up and it wasnt in an apple tree. Definitely not a Cockchafer larvae as doesnt live underground and no plant roots to feed on in the middle of a tree.

Although Lesser stag beetles (dorcus parallelopipedus) are recorded as having habitat in fruit trees, these have always been clarified as apples not plums. They are also described as "when fully grown as being 20mm and a glossy yellow". This larvae was whitey grey and approximately my thumb size ( just measured my thumb its 34 mm.

The larvae was definitely not the smaller 20mm size.

The location is correct near the Bucks /Bed border. That is my hand the larvae is on. I found it in an old Aylesbury prune tree.

The Aylesbury Prune is described as a Plum(damson) in pomological literature but is a very late cooking plum which was a mainstay due to its niche of extending the harvesting period in home plum production for the UK until its gradual demise after the 2nd world war

The orchard is still in production but has gone past its Zenith in the level of fruit being produced. It has a high percentage of trees still producing fruit with good live wood, but also some good dead but still standing trees.

It also has some which are only just still viable for production but great for invertabrates and other wildlife.

The trees all contain a reaonable amount of dead wood or holes for egress via fracture tears.

I spotted a hole in the main trunk beneath the bough of one of the 80 year old trees and noticed it was full of a very, very deep layer of frass.

The hole was large enough to get my hand in easily ( i have very small hands). While extracting the frass to photograph as habitat evidence (sorry its blurred ) a Scarabaeidae type larvae was then spotted and i got very excited!!

The photos were then taken and the beetle larvae was returned back in situ to the frass where it quickly disappered.

The colour, size, shape and charcteristics and habitat profile of this larvae match up with those of a Noble Chafer and if you check ( in Google type in " Worcestershire Record No. 16 April 2004 pp. 10-11" you can see that the the frass and larvae photographic evidence match up as well.

It shouldnt be considered unusual for a Noble Chafer beetle to be found as this part of the country as it is an ideal habitat.

This area use to have swathes of plum and also cherry orchards until their decline, post 2nd world war. Further decline was hastened in the 1970s/ 80s by the EEC Orchard subsidies for "grubbing up" (unfortunate term!!) which destroyed even more.

In fact if a Noble Chafer beetle was to be found the relic orchards of this area would have the highest probability factor, and hence why it has been.

I have sent copy of the photo to Anita who i know from PTES and Orchard Group Meetings who now thinks " yes it is a noble chafer subject to further confirmation from her entomologists" ( is that you Mark and Matt ??)

all the best and if you have any other questions please

give us a call

Andy Howard

Mid-Shires Orchard Group

01295 810516


NB. Definitely not Rose chafer as totally hairless and smooth.

andy howard's picture

Noble chafer find confirmed in Bucks


Martin and Mark for coming down today and confirming my initial find from weds. I knew i was right and it had to be the Noble Chafer as the habitat, just felt right and it it met all the other criteria.

I hope you enjoyed the orchard, Its amazing isnt it.!!

Hoipe you also got a nice cupppa and a bannana cake if you were lucky !!

All the best

Andy Howard

Mid-Shires Orchard Group

01295 810516