I have recently become a fan of the cockchafer beetle. What a magnifiscent creature, though I know it's a pest. I understand that the numbers are recovering since the ban of the worst pesticides by the EU. I wonder if these beetles are an important food for any threatened bird species? Or indeed other animals? Also does anyone know where I might see them in the region of Whitstable, East Kent?
Many thanks! Susy P
Corvids (crows, jackdaws, magpies etc.) will take the adults and foxes, badgers and even cats will munch on them if they are inclined. Foxes and badgers will also dig for the larvae and can make a mess of lawns in doing so. Unfortunately my Beagle has a taste for them and at times makes our lawn look like the Somme.
As regards seeing these near you, you have missed the boat for this year. The Maybug is their other common name and May is pretty much their month. That said they were a bit latter this year, as many things were, due to the cold start to the year so I saw more in June than in May. They are attracted to light after dark, including moth traps, so if you were to rig up a strong lamp in your garden mid-late May next year you may attract some.
Thanks so much. That's really helpful. They sound like they cause of a lot of anguish for people. As far as you know, they're not an important food resource for any threatened species then...
The larger bats like noctules and serotines like to eat large beetles such as cockchafers and the decline in the numbers of these bats may be largely due to the declining numbers of large beetles
Here is a 1904 account of noctules eating cockchafers - around London (ah, those were the days) -
Shrikes also eat cockchafers and store them by impaling them on spikes and thorns and returning later to eat them.