Cockchafer larva (Melolontha melolontha)

Cockchafer larva (Melolontha melolontha)

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Credit: DR JEREMY BURGESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Larva of the cockchafer, or May bug, Melolontha melolontha. Cockchafers are large, clumsy and noisy flying beetles that are a serious pest to horticulture and agriculture. The adults feed on flowers and foliage, including that of apple trees. The larvae, which live in the soil for 3-5 years before pupating, consume the roots of grasses and cereal crops. The adult lays batches of about 20 eggs at a time, and each larva feeds for several years before burying itself to a depth of up to 60cm in order to pupate. The adult emerges from the pupa in early Autumn, but remains underground until the following Spring. Before it buries itself deeply prior to pupation, a cockchafer grub is liable to predation by birds, especially rooks and starlings.The picture shows a mature larva that was living within a lawn, photographed in mid-Summer. The length of the larva is 40mm.

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Keywords: beetle, chafer, cockchafer, insect pest, larva, may bug, melolontha, pupa

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