Arriving at a garden the other morning, I just missed treading on a chafer grub beetle, otherwise known as a May bug or Melolontha melolontha. This one was sitting very still in the middle of a lawn, which was not a good place. I wondered if had been there since the previous night as these beetles are active at night, resting on trees during the day.
Not wanting to tread on it, and thinking it would be better off in sunshine (yes, there was actually sunshine that day!), we encouraged it to crawl onto a leaf and deposited it on the wooden edge of a cold frame. After sitting in the sun for a couple of minutes, it suddenly woke up and crawled away quite quickly.
There have been few chafer beetles seen around this year, no doubt because of all the rain we’ve had this year. In other years, they can be seen flying at night during the months of May and June. Attracted by the outside lights of houses, they often annoy people by flying in through open windows and buzzing around their heads. That hasn’t happened this year, but maybe it’s partly because it’s been raining much of the time and we haven’t had the windows open as much.
The grubs of chafer beetles, chafer grubs, are familiar to farmers and to those with lawns, as they eat the roots of plants and can cause damage to grass pastures and crops. The grubs are easy to recognise, being up to 4cm long, with white bodies, brown heads and grey ‘tails’. They live as grubs for three years and cause damage during this time.