Cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha)

Cockchafer by bill kralovec
Cockchafer, a photo by bill kralovec on Flickr.

My uncle noticed this large beetle on our balcony on April 30, 2011. The beetle was climbing on the railing in our third floor apartment.

After some research, I identified it as the Cockchafer, or as it is known colloquially, as the May Bug, or Billy Witch, or Spang Beetle. It is a member of the Scarab Beetle family. The reason it has so many colloquial names is that it used to be a major agricultural pest, kind of like the flocks of locusts in the Bible. They are now under the control of pesticides, but they still do cause damage. They often are seen attracted to lights at night.

I am not sure why they are called “cockchafers” or what the name of the beetle is in Serbian. They are called May Bugs because they emerge as adults in late April and early May.

This particular specimen is a male – identified by the seven lobes on its antenna. It didn’t fly when we let it go and it was the only one we found.


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