Melolontha melolontha (cockchafer or May bug)

Melolontha melolontha the May bug or cockchafer is not a true bug but a relatively large beetle found more commonly in the south of the UK.

Melolontha melolontha normally appears flying on warm evenings from May to July. Melolontha melolontha is attracted to artificial light and often comes indoors through open windows or even down chimneys. May bugs may cause consternation to those who encounter them but are harmless to humans.

Melolontha melolontha grubs, however, are considered a pest feeding underground on the roots of a wide range of plants and can damage pastures and crops. 

Species detail

Melolontha melolontha 

Melolontha melolontha showing short feelers on its black head  © M Mitschack

 

Melolontha melolontha is the largest UK species of this group of beetles known as chafers.

Morphology

Melolontha melolontha 

  • is about an inch in length
  • has short feelers on its black head and 
  • has a hairy body
  • has non-hairy reddish-brown wing cases (when seen with the naked eye)
  • Melolontha melolontha
    Taxonomy

    Melolontha melolontha is about an inch long, has short feelers on its black head and a hairy body under reddish-brown wing cases. Find out more about the structure of Melolontha melolontha and other species that look like the May bug.

  • Melolontha melolontha
    Distribution and habitat

    Discover where the May bug is found and the types of habitat it enjoys.

  • Melolontha melolontha
    Biology

    Melolontha melolontha usually only live for around a month. Learn about the lifecycle of this species, from egg to adult.

  • Melolontha melolontha
    Behaviour

    Adults are active fliers at dusk onwards feeding on leaves after dark and rest on trees during the day. Find out more.

  • Melolontha melolontha
    Conservation

    Find out why conserving this species is not currently high on the agenda.

  • Melolontha melolontha
    References

    Get reference material for Melolontha melolontha.

Images

Melolontha melolontha

Melolontha melolontha is the largest species of chafer beetle in the UK.

© J Woods, judywoods@dial.pipex.com
Melolontha melolontha the May bug or cockchafer

Melolontha melolontha the May bug or cockchafer 

©  Darkone, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Unported license
Melolontha melolontha showing its black head, hairy body and reddish-brown wing cases.

Melolontha melolontha showing its black head, hairy body and reddish-brown wing cases.

© Darkone, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Unported license
Melolontha melolontha in deciduous woodland. 

Melolontha melolontha in deciduous woodland. 

© Aconcagua, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
Melolontha melolontha resting on a leave during the day. 

Melolontha melolontha resting on a leave during the day. 

© Beentree, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
Melolontha melolontha showing short feelers on its black head

Melolontha melolontha showing short feelers on its black head.

© M Mitschack
melolontha-melolontha-04.jpg

Melolontha melolontha resting on leaf litter during the day. 

© Sanja, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Author

Lee Rogers

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