European Rose Chafer
The European rose chafer can be scientifically identified as the Cetonia aurata. It is a type of beetle that is very eye-catching. This large, broad beetle can be spotted along woodland hedges, in scrub, and in grassland. The adult rose chafer can be found on flowers, which is their main staple food. They are especially inclined to Dog Roses. On the other hand, the larvae rely on a diet of decaying plants, leaves and roots. They stay in this stage of development for about 2 years.
As they pupate, they hibernate in rotting wood or the soil during the period of winter. The adult chafer will then emerge out of the pupae during the spring season. As an adult, it is commonly viewed as a pest. However, the rose chafer larvae are considered extremely beneficial in increasing the fertility levels of the soil. The adult rose chafer can be distinguished by its metallic green color, which lends to its other name: the green rose chafer.
Nomenclature and Taxonomy
The European Rose Chafer is in the family Scarabaeidae and of the genus Cetonia. The species is Cetonia aurata, or C. aurata for short. The pioneer of modern taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus, named this particular subspecies. It is the subspecies Cetonia aurata aurata named by Linnaeus in 1761. The rest of the subspecies include:
- Cetonia aurata pallida (Discovered by Drury in 1770)
- Cetonia aurata viridiventris (Realized by Reitter in 1896)
- Cetonia aurata pisana (Unearthed by Heer in the year 1841)
- Cetonia aurata sicula (Spotted and named by Aliquo in 1983)
- Cetonia aurata jingkelii (Discovered and named by Flutsch and Tauzin in 2009)
- Cetonia aurata pokornyi (Identified by Rataj in the year 2000)
The European Rose Chafer is normally metallic green in appearance. It has a distinct v-shaped scutellum that resembles an isosceles triangle. This differentiates the beetle from the noble chafer (Gnorimus Nobilis) and the native rose chafer of North America (Macrodactylus subspinosus). It also has irregular white lines that characterize the wing cases, which are called elytra. The underside of the Rose Chafer is copper-like in color. The upper side may appear blue, black, grey, violet, copper, or bronze.
The metallic green color is structurally created. It comes about when circularly polarised light is reflected. It appears colorless when observed via right circularly polarised light. Regarding the white speckles or irregular white lines, they are viewed as an elliptical polarizer, characterized as left-hand and narrow-band.
Their larvae are C-shaped. Their bodies are firm, wrinkled and hairy. They have tiny legs and a small head. They appear quite fleshy and white. The head, legs, and hairs are reddish. They can grow up to 30 mm in length.
Availability, Distribution and Habitat
- The European Rose Chafer can be found amidst rose bushes during the warm, sunny summer months. They are spotted from May to July and as late as September, on rare occasions. They are fast fliers. Their wing cases are always down during flight. Their local habitat is Central and Southern Europe.
- Can be found in the Southern parts of the United Kingdom where they have been observed to be at home in the large populace.
- Can be seen inhabiting the countryside of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong's outlying islands.
- Contribute to the decomposition of decaying matter and facilitate the healthy fertility retention of the soil.
The European Rose Chafer grubs or larvae may be found in rotting logs of wood or moldy leaves. They may also be found in a compost pit or manure. Spending the entire winter at the feeding location during the period of hibernation, they grow fast and by the end of autumn, they undergo the process of molting twice. Their entire lifecycle is at least two years long.
A few adult beetles can be spotted during autumn. They are found in sizes of 14-22 mm long. The real season of emergence from the pupae stage is springtime. During this time, these beetles will take to feeding on flowers of various types.
These include the honeysuckle and Viburnum. Their favorite cuisine is the Rose flower from which their name is derived. They destroy the flowers and may extend their feeding to the leaves. This is also the mating season of these beetles.
When mating is done, the female rose chafers lay their eggs, and shortly afterward, they die. This is almost always during the start of summer. It is from under the decaying organic matter where the eggs were laid, that the grubs hatch. It is from here that the life cycle for these new creatures begins again.
The European Rose Chafer may be food to animals found a little higher in the food chain. They may fall prey to different predators depending on the stage of development they are on. Toads and birds are the most well-known predators of the rose chafers. There is a high possibility that the ground beetle consumes the chafers’ larvae, as well. The grubs may also fall prey to small snakes and rodents which hunt at the ground level.
Conservation and Protection Issues
The European Rose Chafer has a short life-span and a moderately long lifecycle. It has been viewed as a pest by many. However, for most of its life, especially as a grub, it is beneficial to the fertility of the soil. It is thus expedient to make sure that it is not threatened with extinction.
In places where it is habitually found, this beetle is a common occurrence. In most parts of the world, however, it is a rare occurrence. Its benefits to the soil far outweigh the damage caused to the plants which could easily be contained.
It is barely a pest, so to speak. The best way of conserving this species of beetle is by planting more native plants. The rose chafer’s life cycle would benefit the ecosystem by preserving the nutrients found in the soil. They would help the world go organic and reduce the use of fertilizers while eliminating the need for Genetically Modified Organisms.