How to Get Rid of Flower Chafer: Simple and Effective Tips

Flower chafers are pesky insects that feast on a variety of flowers, fruits, trees, and shrubs. These annoying pests can be tough to control, but with a few targeted strategies, you can reclaim your garden and enjoy your beautiful plants again.

To combat flower chafers, it’s essential to understand their biology and habits. The European chafer is a small, tan or light brown beetle that can grow up to 0.5 inches long, while the rose chafer is slightly larger at around 0.47 inches in length and a similar light tan color source. Both species lay eggs in sandy soil, making plants in such areas more susceptible to attack.

Effective control of flower chafers involves a mix of cultural practices and targeted treatments. For instance, employing proper weed management can reduce the likelihood of future infestations, as healthier plants are more resistant to pests source. Additionally, maintaining healthy turfgrass through fertilization, mowing, and proper irrigation can help homeowners combat infestations source.

Understanding Flower Chafers

Appearance and Identification

Flower chafers, specifically rose chafers (Macrodactylus subspinosus), are light tan beetles with long legs and a darker brown head. Some key features include:

  • Length: about 12 mm long
  • Antennae: clubbed at the end
  • Legs: long and spiny

In comparison to the Japanese beetle, flower chafers are lighter in color and have longer legs.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of the flower chafer consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

  1. Eggs: Laid just below the soil surface, typically in sandy soil
  2. Larvae: C-shaped white grubs that feed on plant roots
  3. Pupae: Occurs in the soil
  4. Adult Beetles: Emerge from the ground during late spring or early summer

Adult beetles have a short lifespan of about 3 to 4 weeks.

Diet and Damage

Flower chafers mainly feed on flowers, but they also cause damage to trees and shrubs. Examples of affected plants include:

  • Roses
  • Peonies
  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Elm
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

The beetles skeletonize leaves, leaving only the veins. They also create large, irregular holes on flower blossoms, potentially destroying buds and flowers.

Comparison Table: Flower Chafer vs. Japanese Beetle

Feature Flower Chafer Japanese Beetle
Color Light tan Metallic green-bronze
Leg Length Long and spiny Shorter legs
Feeding Time Day Day
Typical Plant Damage Skeletonized leaves, damaged flowers Similar damage, including skeletonized leaves

Overall, understanding the appearance, life cycle, and diet of flower chafers can help in successfully identifying and dealing with these pests in your garden.

Preventing and Controlling Infestations

Cultural Practices

  • Keep your garden clean: Remove rotting wood and debris as it attracts chafer beetles.
  • Maintain healthy soil: Amend sandy soil with organic matter to promote a balanced ecosystem.
  • Mow grass high: Longer grass can deter flower chafers from laying eggs.

Physical Barriers

  • Floating row covers: Place floating row covers made of cheesecloth or other lightweight material over your garden plants to act as a physical barrier.
  • Bucket of soapy water: Hand-pick chafers from plants and place them in a bucket of soapy water to prevent further damage.

Example: Some gardeners use a floating row cover to protect young plants from pests.

Biological Controls

  • Introduce beneficial nematodes: Apply nematodes to the soil to attack and control chafer grubs.
  • Encourage birds: Birds, such as chickens, can help keep infestations in check by consuming grubs and beetles.
Control Method Pros Cons
Floating Row Cover Chemical-free; Reusable Only covers small areas
Beneficial Nematodes Eco-friendly; Effective Application requires proper timing

Chemical Controls

  • Insecticides: Products containing imidacloprid, permethrin, or carbaryl (Sevin) can effectively control adult flower chafers.
  • Read labels carefully: Always follow directions and consider the health and environmental implications.

Remember, prevention and early intervention are crucial to controlling flower chafer infestations. Taking steps such as maintaining a clean garden, using physical barriers, and introducing beneficial organisms can help keep these pests at bay and protect your plants.

Facts and Misconceptions

Toxicity Concerns

  • Flower chafers are not known to be deadly to humans or pets.
  • While rose chafers feed on flower blossoms, they don’t produce any harmful toxins.
  • Their main threat is to plants, as they can cause damage to foliage and blooms.

Examples of affected plants:

  • Roses
  • Peonies
  • Fruiting plants like apple, cherry, and raspberry

Impacts on Agriculture

  • They can impact a variety of fruits and shrubs, including grapes and hydrangeas.
  • Their larvae, known as grubs, feed on the roots of grasses and non-crop plants, causing damage to lawns and gardens.
  • Controlling them can be a task since they have a natural lifecycle that includes periods of active feeding (late May).

Pros of controlling chafers:

  • Reduced damage to flowers, fruits, and foliage
  • Healthier lawns and gardens

Cons of controlling chafers:

  • Might harm beneficial insects and pollinators
  • Frequent applications of control methods may be required
Factor Rose Chafer European Chafer
Lifespan 3-4 weeks 1-2 years
Feeding habits Flowers/fruits Roots of grasses
Affected plants Roses, peonies, fruiting plants Lawns, turfgrass

Environmental Considerations

  • Their impact on small animals and birds is limited, as they provide a natural food source for some species.
  • However, controlling their population is essential to reduce undue damage to plants and the surrounding ecosystems.
  • When considering pest control, take note of the potential side-effects on non-target organisms and the environment.

Key factors for effective control:

  • Timely application of control methods
  • Minimizing harm to other beneficial organisms
  • Monitoring population levels and affected areas

Regional Challenges and Adaptations

Geographical Variations

Flower chafers are a group of beetles that can cause damage to various plants. In Minnesota, these pests are likely to be found in sandy sites where they lay their eggs. Their larvae, known as white grubs, feed on the roots of grasses and can cause significant damage to lawns. Some common flower chafer species include:

  • Cockchafer or May bug: This species is more prevalent in Europe and causes damage to the bark of trees such as birch.
  • June beetles: These are native to North America and can also cause damage to tree bark.

Species-Specific Tips

Here are some tips to control the different species of flower chafers:

  • Cockchafer (May bug): Physical barriers and biological control with parasitic nematodes are recommended methods.
  • June beetles: Traps with pheromone lures can be used to eliminate these pests.

Example: In Michigan, insecticides are often applied in vineyards to control rose chafers.

Comparison Table

Feature Cockchafer (May bug) June Beetles
Geographical Range Europe North America
Damage to Plants Bark; roots of grasses Bark
Control Methods Physical barriers; nematodes Traps; pheromone lure

Note: Effectiveness of control methods may vary based on region and species.

In conclusion, controlling flower chafers requires adapting strategies based on regional differences, species-specific behaviors, and history. Be sure to choose methods that are safe, environmentally friendly, and suitable for the specific area and plants being protected.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Female Flower Chafer


Subject: Beetle type
Location: Michigan thumb
June 3, 2017 8:32 am
Looks like a beetle but it has punchers in front and like a stinger like a bee I live in the thumb of Michigan what is it
Signature: Jason lord

Female Flower Chafer

Dear Jason,
The best we are able to provide at this time is a genus identification.  This is a female Flower Chafer in the genus
Valgus, which we verified by matching your image to this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “Small compact-shaped (almost tick-like) scarabs that visit flowers. Note short elytra, leaving much of abdomen exposed.”  BugGuide also notes that the habitat is “decomposing wood, usually associated with termites; adults visit flowers” and “Larvae are wood decomposers, usually associated with termite colonies.”  The more research we did, the more confident we are that your individual is a female of an adventive species introduced to North America from the Old World, Valgus hemipterus.  According to the Generic Guide to New World Scarab Beetles:  “Distribution: Palaearctic (Algeria, Europe, Iran, Morocco, southern Sibera and Tunisia) and Nearctic:CANADA: Ontario. USA: Michigan, Ohio.”  The same site also states:  “Adult females are attracted to moist, rotting wood to oviposit, although oviposition has been observed in fairly dry wood and in living trees. Females leave colonized wood to seek out new oviposition sites in early summer and use their pygidial spines to create such sites. The entire life cycle of Valgus hemipterus can be completed within a log, and Nearctic specimens have been taken from rotting wood of the American elm (Ulmus americana L.). Oak, birch, elm, and chestnut are common host trees in Europe.” 

Letter 2 – Flower Chafer


Big Black Beetle
Location: Southeastern Michigan
July 12, 2011 9:27 pm
This big fella flew into my long curly hair and got stuck there, much to my chagrin. I shook him out finally and he hung around long enough to get his photo taken and then flew off with a loud humming sound. He was about as big as my thumb. Oh by the way, I was sitting by a lake when it happened.
Signature: thanks! Laura

Flower Chafer: Osmoderma scabra

Hi Laura,
Your beetle is
Osmoderma scabra, one of the Fruit and Flower Chafers.  In the past week, we posted a photo of the closely related Hermit Flower Beetle, but alas, your beetle doesn’t have a specific common name.  You can compare your image to the photos submitted to BugGuide.

Thanks for the reply. The hermit flower beetle was very similar. I love your website!

Letter 3 – Malaysian Flower Chafers Mating


For your bug love collection
Hi bugfolks,
Love, love, love your site, thank you! I have attached a picture I’d like to contribute to your Bug Love section. It was taken in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. If you know what they are, I’d love to know, but I think it’s a cool picture anyway. Again, wonderful site!

Hi Mariane,
We don’t recognize your beautiful Malaysian Scarab Beetles. Perhaps one of our readers will write in with a species identification. We have seen this species embedded in lucite and sold as keychains in Chinatown and at swap meets.

This scarab belongs to the Cetoniinae subfamily, Flower Chafers or Flower Scarabs. It is an Agestrata species but I don’t know which one, as apparently there are several which are all rather similar. It seems not to be A. luzonica or A. orichalca. Take a look at:


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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