I bet everyone is thinking ‘Why on earth is Anneka going on about these little creatures?’. Well, I have rather a large soft spot for these little fellas. I spend every May ‘saving’ them from drowning, falling into the jaws of my dogs, crawling under people’s feet and from crashing repeatedly into my windows and lampshades.
When I first moved out into the rural countryside, I had never experienced a ‘May Bug’ or a Cockchafer, as they are correctly termed. One May we were all sat in our very, very dark and very, very rural house when suddenly we heard all these little smacks on our windows. We couldn’t work out what they were. Were they moths, hornets? We crept outside by torchlight to see these little tubby fatties all rolling around on their backs on our patio after mindlessly crashing into our windows, attracted by the light. I picked one up and its hooked little feet clamped around my finger and that’s when I noticed its face!
OMG! Such a CUTE FACE! It had to be the sweetest, cutest little bug I had ever seen. Also it was slow, clumsy and very gentle. I quickly rescued them out of the dog water bowl and have been saving them every since. Every May, I rush out and make sure that I get them into a safe place away from my windows.
Many gardens & farmers have taken an extreme dislike for the May Bug, as it develops underground as larvae before emerging in its adult form three years later. During this time it likes to eat the roots of the grass, causing yellow dead patches to form and creating a feasting ground for magpies and crows. It also eats potato plant roots killing off many a crop. If one accidentally digs one up, it’s a surprisingly very large white, juicy larvae which is unable to survive above ground without being spied as a tasty snack by all the birds and eaten up very quickly.
When the adults emerge, they live for about 5-7 weeks and during this time, they find their partners, mate and lay eggs. The females have 6 feathery ‘fans’ to their antennae, six either side. The males have seven either side.
The Cockchafer was almost eradicated completely in the 1970’s with the use of pesticides, but due to the fact that some accidentally enter the food chain during harvest, it was decided to withdraw pesticides. This means that the cockchafer numbers are again on the increase.
For me, May would never be the same now without the dopey and clumsy May Bug banging into my window and days of play having these cute little fellas crawl across my hands. I would not be without them.