lfd33's picture

May Bug

We have pansies and forget-me-nots in a window box and at 11pm we saw what looked like a large cockroach against the window, crawling up and falling off a flower stalk. It was a May bug or cock-chafer repeatedly climbing up a forget-me-not stalk and falling off again. It had feathery antennae and a hard armoured dark brown wing case. Don't know if it had just emerged from the larval stage or whether it had flown there to eat the flowers. My parents say that there used to be lots of them around at this time of year but this is the first time I have seen one. Why are they so rare now?



Kluut's picture

Cock-chafers (May-bugs, billy-witches)

The larvae are agricultural (and garden) pests - they eat the roots of a wide variety of plants. As such, they are one of the species that modern farming methods have reduced in numbers.
You should also ask about accuracy of memory too - my parents also said they used to be common when they were young - 1920's. I only recall seeing them very occasionally as a child in the 60's-70's.
the adult beetles aren't likely to be seen very often as, as adults, they tend to inhabit the tops of trees, although they do get attracted by lights.

Martin Harvey's picture


I've heard people talk about the decline in Cockchafers as well, although I've not seen any objective numerical evidence for this. However, given the documented declines of many species of butterfly, moth and bumblebe, it would not be surprising if Cockchafers were also less numerous nowadays.

I still see them regularly in my moth trap each year.

Entomologist and biological recorder