Rose Chafer Beetle: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell

The Rose Chafer Beetle (Macrodactylus subspinosus) is a medium-sized beetle known for feeding on various flowers, trees, and shrubs, especially roses and peonies. Measuring between 5/16-inch to almost 1/2-inch in length, these beetles have a slender, pale green to tan color, adorned with reddish-brown or orange spiny legs. Commonly found in the United States and some parts of Canada, they can often cause significant damage to ornamental plants and some agricultural crops.

Adult Rose Chafers are active during the day and tend to fly in late May and early June, making their feeding season about a month earlier than that of the Japanese beetle. While their feeding preferences include roses, peonies, and other flowers, these beetles are also known to inflict damage on grapes, elms, and birches. In contrast, the larvae of these beetles – white grubs – primarily feed on the roots of grasses and other plants.

Overview

The Rose Chafer Beetle is a medium-sized beetle, scientifically known as Macrodactylus subspinosus. It measures between 5/16-inch to almost 1/2-inch in length and has a slender, pale green to tan body. The beetle also has distinctive reddish-brown or orange spiny legs, making it easily recognizable.

  • Beetle name: Rose Chafer
  • Scientific name: Macrodactylus subspinosus

Adult Rose Chafer Beetles have a relatively short lifespan, typically living for about 3 to 4 weeks after emerging from the ground. Females lay groups of eggs just below the soil surface, and the larvae that hatch are larger, C-shaped grubs.

Some key features of the Rose Chafer Beetle include:

  • Slender, pale green/tan body
  • Reddish-brown or orange spiny legs
  • Approximately 1/2-inch in length
  • Adult lifespan of 3 to 4 weeks

These beetles can have negative impacts on gardens since they feed on roses and other plants like grapes, causing damage to flowers and leaves. If Rose Chafers become numerous, you may need to treat the plants more than once.

Appearance and Identification

Physical Features

The Rose Chafer Beetle (Macrodactylus subspinosus) is a slender beetle that measures between 5/16-inch to almost 1/2-inch in length. It has a distinct appearance due to its pale green to tan color and reddish-brown or orange spiny legs. Some other features to help identify this insect are:

  • Body: Slender and tan-colored
  • Head: Reddish head
  • Legs: Long, spiny, reddish-brown or orange

The Rose Chafer Beetle should not be confused with the Cetonia Aurata, also known as the Rose Chafer. The Cetonia Aurata is a large, metallic green beetle with a distinct appearance. Here is a comparison table to differentiate the two:

Feature Rose Chafer Beetle (Macrodactylus subspinosus) Cetonia Aurata
Size 5/16-inch to 1/2-inch in length Larger than the Rose Chafer Beetle
Color Pale green to tan Metallic green
Legs Reddish-brown or orange spiny legs Not as spiny as the Rose Chafer Beetle

In conclusion, be sure to observe the beetle’s size, color, and leg features when identifying a Rose Chafer Beetle.

Lifecycle and Habits

Eggs

The Rose Chafer Beetle’s lifecycle begins with eggs. Female beetles lay their eggs in sandy or well-drained soil, often in grassy areas. The eggs are small and oval-shaped. Within a couple of weeks, they hatch into larvae.

Larvae

The larvae are white grubs, growing up to 3/4-inch in length. They live in the soil and feed on plant roots, particularly grasses. The larvae go through various stages, called instars, before they pupate. The larval stage can last several months, depending on environmental conditions.

Pupation

Once the larvae are fully developed, they pupate within the soil. During pupation, the larvae transform into adult beetles. Pupation usually occurs in the spring when temperatures begin to rise, and it typically lasts for about two weeks.

Adult Beetles

Following pupation, adult Rose Chafer Beetles emerge from the soil. They are medium-sized, around 5/16-inch to 1/2-inch in length, and pale green to tan in color. Adults have distinctive reddish-brown or orange spiny legs. Adult beetles feed on a variety of plants, including roses, peonies, grapes, elms, birches, and more1.

Characteristics of the Rose Chafer Beetle:

  • Medium-sized (5/16-inch to 1/2-inch in length)
  • Pale green to tan with reddish-brown or orange spiny legs
  • Adults feed on a variety of plants, often causing skeletonization of leaves

Host Plants and Damage

Roses and other Flowers

Rose chafers are known for their destructive nature on roses and peonies, causing large, irregular holes by feeding on the flower blossoms. Other commonly affected flowers include:

  • Dahlias
  • Foxgloves
  • Wisterias

Trees and Shrubs

These beetles don’t limit their damage to flowers. They also attack trees and shrubs, with some common targets being:

  • Apple trees
  • Cherry trees
  • Elm trees
  • Virginia creeper

They skeletonize the leaves by feeding between the veins, creating a lace-like appearance.

Fruits

Rose chafers also cause significant damage to fruits, such as:

  • Grape
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry

In addition to flowers, the adult beetles feed on the foliage and fruits, often leaving marks and holes which make the fruits unappealing.

Comparison Table

Roses & Other Flowers Trees & Shrubs Fruits
Damage Large, irregular holes in blossoms Skeletonizing leaves Marks & holes on the fruits
Examples Roses, peonies, dahlia, foxglove, wisteria Apple, cherry, elm, Virginia creeper Grape, raspberry, strawberry

Rose Chafer Characteristics:

  • Light tan beetle with a darker brown head
  • Long and spiny legs
  • About 0.5 inch in size
  • One generation per year

Lifecycle Stages:

  • Grubs: Feed on grass and weed roots
  • Adult: Feed on flowers, foliage, and fruits

Control and Management

Natural Predators

  • Birds: Many species of birds, including robins and starlings, feed on rose chafers. Encouraging bird populations in your garden can naturally reduce chafer beetle numbers.
  • Nematodes: Beneficial nematodes in the soil can help control rose chafer grubs by attacking and killing them before they reach adulthood.

Cultural Control Methods

  • Lawn care: Maintaining a healthy, well-irrigated lawn can discourage beetles, as they prefer sandy soil and stressed turf grass.
  • Trap crops: Planting trap crops, such as marigolds or clover, can attract beetles away from more desirable plants, reducing their impact on your main garden or orchard.
  • Hand-picking: Removing adult beetles by hand and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water is an effective, albeit time-consuming, method for small infestations.

Chemical Control Options

  • Insecticidal soap: Spraying affected plants with soapy water can help control rose chafers, but it may require frequent applications.
  • Pesticides: For larger infestations, consider using chemical pesticides such as Tempo or Sevin. Always follow label instructions and be cautious around beneficial wildlife, including pollinators. Keep in mind that chemical control options may offer a temporary solution, as beetles can eventually develop resistance.
Control Method Pros Cons
Natural Predators Non-toxic, environmentally friendly May not fully control large infestations
Cultural Control Methods Reduces reliance on chemicals Requires consistent effort and monitoring
Chemical Control Options Fast-acting, effective for large infestations Potential harm to beneficial insects, risk of resistance

Fascinating Facts and Impact on Ecosystem

The Rose Chafer Beetle is a fascinating insect with a significant impact on the ecosystem. Some key facts about the Rose Chafer Beetle include:

  • Typically found in areas with sandy soil1
  • Grubs eat the roots of grass and weeds2
  • Adults feed primarily on flower blossoms, especially roses and peonies3
  • Can cause damage to fruit crops, such as grapes, raspberries, and strawberries4

One unique aspect of the Rose Chafer Beetle is its ability to produce a toxin. This toxin can be harmful to small animals or chickens when they consume the beetle. Examples of this include:

  • Chickens can experience paralysis after consuming too many beetles5
  • Small animals may experience similar symptoms or even death6

The Rose Chafer Beetle plays an important role in the ecosystem, but it also has some negative effects. A comparison of its pros and cons is as follows:

Pros Cons
Helps to control weeds by feeding on their roots7 Causes damage to ornamental flowers8
Can act as a biological control for certain pest insects9 Can negatively affect fruit crop yields10

In conclusion, the Rose Chafer Beetle is an intriguing insect with a significant impact on the ecosystem. The beetle’s existence offers both benefits and challenges, which highlights the complexity of the natural world.

Footnotes

  1. Rose chafers | UMN Extension 2

  2. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/rose-chafer

  3. https://extension.umd.edu/resource/rose-chafer-beetle-shrubs

  4. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/rose_chafer_management_for_vineyards

  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/47151892_Paralysis_in_Chickens_following_Ingestion_of_Toxin_Produced_by_Rose_Chafer_Larvae

  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8125877/

  7. https://entomology.unl.edu/turfent/documnts/chafer.shtml

  8. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/rose-chafer

  9. https://biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/predators/Chafer.php

  10. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/eea.13030

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com 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 – Rose Chafer from Greece

 

Subject: Huge Green Bug
Location: Greece – North
June 6, 2015 1:33 pm
Hi – any idea what this is? It flys, seems to like plants/pollon and was spotted in Northern Greece May 2015. Any ideas would be great
Signature: Jill

Scarab Beetle
Rose Chafer

Dear Jill,
We believe we have identified your Scarab Beetle as
Cetonia aurata thanks to images posted to Ben’s Beetle Breeding Page where it states:  “Cetonia aurata is a very common European Cetonid. They often breed in compost mounds.”  According to the Natural History Museum website, it is commonly called a Rose Chafer, and this information is provided:  “Cetonia aurata the rose chafer beetle are found over southern and central Europe and the southern part of the UK where they can be very localized. The adults are fairly variable in colour from dark green through to some with a more golden-green sheen.  Rose chafers are usually seen in sunny weather feeding on the petals of flowers especially roses. Adults can often be seen from early summer and are very quick to take off and fly if disturbed.  The larvae feed on decaying leaves and vegetable matter at the soil/litter interface and develop over two to three years.  Cetonia aurata are a very beneficial saprophagous species (detritivore), their larvae are the insect equivalent of earth worms and help make very good compost where they are often found in great numbers.”  Since we will be away from the office for a few weeks, we are postdating your submission to go live in our absence.

Scarab Beetle
Rose Chafer

Letter 2 – Fiddler Beetle from Australia

 

Subject:  Bug in garden.
Geographic location of the bug:  Gippsland Victoria
Date: 11/20/2017
Time: 10:01 PM EDT
Im trying to find out what bug this is. And is it a good bug or bad bug?
How you want your letter signed:  Anyway.

Fiddler Beetle

Each year as summer approaches in the southern hemisphere, we receive identification requests for Fiddler Beetles, like the one in your image, from Australia.  When it comes to insects, good and bad are relative terms.  Fiddler Beetles pose no threat to humans.  According to Australian Museum:  “Adult beetles emerge from soil in early summer and feed on the nectar of flowers” and “Female Fiddler Beetles lay their eggs in rotting logs or in the damp soil under logs. The grubs feed on rotting timber and build cocoons of soil and debris in which they pupate.”  As pollinating insects with larvae that help break down rotting wood, we feel confident stating they are beneficial in the garden.

Letter 3 – Fiddler Beetle from Australia

 

Whats that bug?
Location: Lightning Ridge, NSW, Australia
November 21, 2011 2:36 am
Hi there, this particular beetle was found in a pot plant by my mother in law. The bright florescent green was what caught her eye so she bought it right round so i could snap a photo.
Markings were symmetrical on top and on bottom, obviously 6 legs, eyes under its head and wings under its hard shell on its back. Spring is nearly over now heading into summer. Hope this helps.
Regards, Peter

Fiddler Beetle

Hi Peter,
As winter approaches in the northern hemisphere and our North American identification requests begin to diminish, we have a surge of identification requests from Australia and other southern realms.  We generally get several requests each year to identify Fiddler Beetles,
Eupoecila australasiae, like the individual in your photograph.  Fiddler Beetles make their summer appearance in Australia beginning in late November and continuing through about February.  We featured the Fiddler Beetle as the Bug of the Month for February 2007. 

Letter 4 – Rose Chafer from England

 

Rain Beetle
Thu, May 21, 2009 at 10:42 AM
I’m not here to ask what this is, I’m pretty sure of what it is having found your wonderful site but I did think you might appreciate a couple of pictures. I found this emerald coloured Rain Beetle in my back garden and took plenty of photos before it flew away.
Pippa
Corfe Mullen, Dorset

Rose Chafer
Rose Chafer

Dear Pippa,
Your beautiful Scarab Beetle is actually a Rose Chafer, Cetonia aurata.  According to the UK Safari website:  is “Found throughout the UK, although thought to be declining in numbers. Months seen: May to October.”  The website also indicates:  “The rose chafer is one of our larger and more attractive beetles. The upper surfaces are an iridescent emerald green and bronze colour. The underside is a bronze colour. There are ragged white marks running widthways across the wing casings which look like fine cracks. Rose chafers are usually seen in sunny weather feeding on the petals of flowers – especially roses. ”

Letter 5 – Rose Chafer

 

Small yellow beetle
Location: Michigan
June 9, 2011 3:16 pm
Hi,
I’ve several of these fellows on my garden plants (potatoes, squash, peppers, buckwheat) – I’m assuming they are pests, but would like to know what they are for certain. They are small (about 3/8”), not furry on bottom, but the legs are barbed, yellow body, grayish head. This picture is on a small potato plant. Thanks!
Signature: Barbie

Rose Chafer

Dear Barbie,
The Rose Chafer will feed on the leaves from a large variety of plants, and if they are numerous, you may have problems with defoliation.

Letter 6 – Fiddler Beetle from Australia

 

Dear Bugman,
I live in a small town called Milton on the south coast of NSW Australia and today which is a nice summer day, not hot or to windy, just a nice breeze.After a busy morning my children were relaxing watching TV in our lounge room when this bug fell down the chimney. I have lived in the area all my life and have never seen anything like this before. It can fly but is not at all graceful, quite heavy in fact like it does not fly often. I am sure you can solve the mystery as your website and resources of information is incredible. Thank you,
Kelly.

Hi Kelly,
This is actually an easy ID for us. The first time we tried to identify the Australian Fiddler Beetle, Eupoecila australasiae, we had to spend a bit of time on the internet. We selected it as our Bug of the Month in February 2007. It is one of the colorful Scarab Beetles that appear around Christmastime in Australia.

Letter 7 – Third Fiddler Beetle from Australia in a week

 

What is it??
Hello there
Found this in Sydney Australia. Any idea of what it is? Thanks
Stuart

fOUND IT!!!!!! thanks!
Fiddler Beetles
Eupoecila australasiae
These beetles emerged from cocoons found in a pot of daffodils in Randwick. Other locations around Sydney where Fiddler Beetles have been recently found include Ingleburn, St Mary’s, Kellyville and Faulconbridge. They are common in heath and woodlands in south-eastern Australia. Adult beetles emerge from soil in early summer and feed on the nectar of flowers. The beetles lay eggs in rotting logs or in the damp soil under logs. The grubs feed on rotting timber and build cocoons of soil and debris in which they pupate. These attractive beetles are harmless to humans.

Hi Stuart,
We are thrilled that you identified your Fiddler Beetle. This is the third specimen we have posted this week and your letter is the first to arrive in February. It is time to post a Bug of the Month for February 2007, and since we have so many fans in Australia, we have decided to that this month we will feature the Fiddler Beetle. This will be the first Bug of the Month not found in the U.S.

Letter 8 – Another Australian Fiddler Beetle

 

beauiful bright green bug !
Hi there
I happened to find this beautifull thing outside of my door and I live in Sydney, Australia. I’d love to know what it is! Great site by the way.
Keiko Okemi

Hi Keiko,
We just posted another image of a Fiddler Beetle, Eupoecila australasiae.

Letter 9 – Australian Fiddler Beetle

 

Fiddler Beetle
What a great site!!
I came across it while I was searching for a name to put to this lovely beetle I found wandering across my living room carpet one afternoon – the cat was eyeing it off as a snack so I rescued it. From the beetles’ odour, general and mandible morphology I guessed that it might be a eucalypt blossom eater (Gum tree flowers have a distinctive honey/eucalyptus smell) and sure enough, he/she took to a sprig I picked for it like it was candy. So I took photos and released it in native scrubland. The last I saw, it was happily scurrying under a nice damp rotting log. Anyhow, the Australian Museum was kind enough to help me identify it as a Fiddler Beetle, Eupoecila australasiae, but I could not help but share this beautiful creature with you and your readers.
Regards
Ruth
Sydney, Australia

Hi Ruth,
Thank you so much for sending in your photo and letter. We got another image of a Fiddler Beetle a few weeks ago, and couldn’t possitively identify it, so we just gave it the generic name of Scarab Beetle, a reference to the Family.

Letter 10 – Bug of the Month February 2017: Fiddler Beetle from Australia

 

Subject: Can you please help.
Location: Canberra Australia
January 31, 2017 2:09 am
Hello thank you for taking the time to help me out I am wondering if you can help me identify this bug? I’m in Canberra Australia and right now it’s summer thank you
Signature: Andy

Fiddler Beetle

Dear Andy,
Normally, we do not like to repeat our Bug of the Month designations, but submissions in January and February are at their lowest, and we just realized it is the Ten Year Anniversary of the Fiddler Beetle,
Eupoecila australasiae, from Australia being designated as the Bug of the Month on our site in February 2007.  According to the Australian Museum:  “Female Fiddler Beetles lay their eggs in rotting logs or in the damp soil under logs. The grubs feed on rotting timber and build cocoons of soil and debris in which they pupate.”  According to Museums Victoria:  “The adult beetles emerge in early summer. They are strong fliers and fly between eucalypt and other trees to feed on nectar. They are found in all states except for Western Australia and are harmless to humans.”  According to Climate Watch:  “It buzzes loudly while flying.”  The markings on the Fiddler Beetle can be green or yellow.

Fiddler Beetle

Letter 11 – Bug of the Month: February 2007 – Third Fiddler Beetle from Australia in a week

 

What is it??
Hello there
Found this in Sydney Australia. Any idea of what it is? Thanks
Stuart

fOUND IT!!!!!! thanks!
Fiddler Beetles
Eupoecila australasiae
These beetles emerged from cocoons found in a pot of daffodils in Randwick. Other locations around Sydney where Fiddler Beetles have been recently found include Ingleburn, St Mary’s, Kellyville and Faulconbridge. They are common in heath and woodlands in south-eastern Australia. Adult beetles emerge from soil in early summer and feed on the nectar of flowers. The beetles lay eggs in rotting logs or in the damp soil under logs. The grubs feed on rotting timber and build cocoons of soil and debris in which they pupate. These attractive beetles are harmless to humans.

Hi Stuart,
We are thrilled that you identified your Fiddler Beetle. This is the third specimen we have posted this week and your letter is the first to arrive in February. It is time to post a Bug of the Month for February 2007, and since we have so many fans in Australia, we have decided to that this month we will feature the Fiddler Beetle. This will be the first Bug of the Month not found in the U.S.

Letter 12 – Fiddle Beetle from Museum collection

 

Subject: Museum Specimen (very flat beetle)
Location: Museum Collection, place of origin unknown
February 10, 2013 7:27 pm
This was in a collection at the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum in St. George, UT (I saw it as a visitor there). Unfortunately it was unlabeled. It was very flat with the middle part being slightly thicker. The body was 2.5-3 inches long.
Signature: James Bowler

Fiddle Beetle with Jewel Beetles

Hi James,
We believe this collection was most likely part of a donation.  The beetle in question looked very familiar to us, but we needed to research its identity.  We thought it must be a Ground Beetle in the family Carabidae, and our hunch proved to be correct.  We found a photo and a common name on the Bug Collection website where it is called a Fiddle Beetle and this information is provided:  “Here’s another strange one. It’s pretty big, but very flat, resembling a huge seed. They are carnivorous and found under loose bark.”  You need to scroll down to find the image.  Now that we had a common name, we found an image on a Stock Photography page that also provided a scientific name
Mormolyce phyllodes and the location of the rainforests of Malaysia.  Carniveraforum lists the common name as Violin Beetle.  The Wild Borneo website states:  “Fiddle Beetles (Carabidae: Thyreopterinae) are found in forested habitats in tropical Southeast Asia. Their bizarre flattened wing-sheaths allow them to maneuver under tree bark and cracks where they hunt for other insects.”

Letter 13 – Fiddler Beetle

 

Whats the Bug
today we found a little black beetle with fluro green markingd on its underside and back they are in a pattern of lines i was wondering if you could please tell me what sort of beetle it is we are located on queenslands goldcoast Australia our little dog was caught attacking the little beetle please let us no.

This is the third Fiddler Beetle, Eupoecila australasiae, photo we have received from Australia in the last month. It is truly a pretty beetle.

Letter 14 – Fiddler Beetle

 

Hi
I found this beetle inside a piece of rotten playwood in my backyard in Sydney Australia
Heinz

Hello Heinz,
This Fiddler Beetle is the second we got this week and the fourth in a month.

Letter 15 – Fiddler Beetle from Australia

 

Subject: Beetle ID
Location: Childers, Queenslad, Australia
February 14, 2015 4:59 am
Hi Bugman
My husband found this bug, unfortunately drowned in our rain gauge after a heavy downpour, I wondered if you could tell us what it s called, I absolutely loved the vivid green markings on its back.
Signature: Cheers, Dianima

Fiddler Beetle
Fiddler Beetle

Dear Dianima,
This beautiful Scarab Beetle,
Eupoecila australasiae, is called a Fiddler Beetle because of the patterns on its dorsal surface.  We often receive several images of Fiddler Beetles from Australia each year.  Though you didn’t ask, you other images appear to be of the ootheca of a Mantis.

Letter 16 – Fiddler Beetle from Australia

 

unknown Beetle
Dear Bugman,
Today I found this exquisite beetle in my back yard, unfortunately something else ha d found him first. : ( I was wondering if you would be able to tell me what kind of beetle he is as no-one I know has seen one like him before. I’ve included a couple of photographs below but I couldn’t find a way to make them any clearer with my camera. I hope they are okay. Thanks,
JP

Hi JP,
Though you did not indicate where you are located, since the Fiddler Beetle, Eupoecila australasiae, is an Australian species, we are deducing you are somewhere down under. Fiddler Beetles can have bright green markings or golden yellow markings. These scarab beetles feed on nectar, often from eucalyptus trees, and the beetle grubs feed on rotting wood.

Letter 17 – Fiddler Beetle from Australia

 

green bug from Brisbane, Australia
Hi Bugman!
I found this little bug buzzing around inside my house earlier and managed to nab a picture of it. The picture doesn’t really do justice to how bright the green colouring was, but I hope it will suffice. Maybe you can identify it? Thanks
(ps. if this one gets published, please just identify me as Scott. thanks.)

Hi Scott,
This beautiful Scarab Beetle is commonly called the Fiddler Beetle.

Letter 18 – Fiddler Beetle from Australia

 

found dead in our garden
What kind of beatle is it? It is about 18mm long. Never seen anything like it. Hope you can tell me. With kind regards
Knut Neumann

Hi Knut,
Luckily we remembered identifying the Australian Fiddler Beetle in the past, and we quickly confirmed the identification. We like to get at least a continent regarding specimen location.

Letter 19 – Fiddler Beetle from Australia

 

Yellow fiddler beetle, Victoria, Australia
Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 9:28 PM
I saw a very brightly coloured bug on my back step, and after going through your Australian bugs, I found it was a fiddler beetle. I thought it would be a good addition to your photo collection as it is bright yellow, where all the photos you have they are green. Unfortunately this is the only decent shot I managed to get.
Anthony ‘Timorg’ Cassidy
Victoria, Australia

Fiddler Beetle
Fiddler Beetle

Hi Anthony,
We know that winter is upon us in Los Angeles when the Fiddler Beetle photos from Australia start to arrive in our email inbox.  Sure enough, your letter arrived just as our first major rain storm of the season fell.

Letter 20 – Fiddler Beetle from Australia

 

Beetle,about 1 inch long, very dark with bright green markings
December 26, 2009
This eye-catching beetle crawled out of the mulch around a potted lime tree as I was watering the pot on Christmas day.
Irena
Sydney, Australia

Fiddler Beetle
Fiddler Beetle

Hi Irena,
We received so many images of Fiddler Beetles, Eupoecila australasiae, in early 2007 that we made it the Bug of the Month in February of that year.  It really is a distinctive beetle that is unlikely to be confused with any other species.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you very much !
And thank you for the great site.
Best wishes for 2010
Irena

Letter 21 – Fiddler Beetle from Australia

 

Subject: Colourful Bug
Location: Hornsby NSW
October 30, 2015 7:16 pm
I found this bug while pulling a weed out of a pot, at Hornsby NSW. I thought it might be a harlequin bug but the colour differs from the specimen shown on your website. Could you please identify the bug for me?
Signature: Mary

Fiddler Beetle
Fiddler Beetle

Dear Mary,
Each year as winter begins to descend on the northern hemisphere, we depend upon increased submissions from Australia and South Africa to supply us with daily posting material.  This gorgeous Scarab Beetle is called a Fiddler Beetle,
Eupoecila australasiae, because of the beautiful green pattern on its body.

Letter 22 – Fiddler Beetle from Australia

 

Subject: beetle!!!!!
Location: Bendigo,Victoria,AUSTRALIA
January 14, 2013 10:29 pm
could you help me identify this bug for me. We found it in the garden only the outer shell! looks almost like it was designed by the egyptians thank you
Signature: christjohn

Fiddler Beetle

Hi christjohn,
Each year when it is summer in the southern hemisphere and winter in the northern hemisphere, we receive a few images of Fiddler Beetles,
Eupoecila australasiae, from Australia.  We believe the common name Fiddler Beetle is a reference to the markings on the beetle’s body which can be likened to the markings on a violin.

thank you Daniel
regards from down under
john

Letter 23 – Blue Land Crab from Belize

 

Subject: not a fruit fly
Location: Toledo District, Belize
September 20, 2014 3:29 pm
Hi, folks,
Just sending this along for fun; thought you might get a kick out of it.
My kitchen is open air and we get plenty of critters, but this was a first.
Signature: Tanya

Fiddler Crab
Blue Land Crab

Hi Tanya,
What a pretty little Fiddler Crab, and what a poser.  The Smithsonian has a nice article on Fiddler Crabs.

Hello, Daniel,
Glad you liked the photo.  But it’s not a fiddler crab.  It’s a blue land crab (Cardisoma guanhumi) also known as duppy.  They get very large (“huge” says my Peterson Field Guide).  The one in the picture is a small, young animal.  When the mating season is on, they run in large numbers.  Their claws are capable of puncturing vehicle tires which is a hazard when they cross roads in swampy areas.  They are very tasty and are a much-prized delicacy in Belize.
I’m having lots of fun (and learning plenty) reading through the archives of WTB.  What a terrific job you and your small staff are doing.  Plenty of stars in your crowns.
Regards,
Tanya

Thanks for both the compliment and the correction Tanya.

Letter 24 – Mating Rose Chafers

 

Subject: SOAT (Save our apple tree!)
Location: Central WI
June 4, 2012 2:24 pm
These were found all over all our favorite apple tree! ANd in the garden as well on the peppers and squash plants. We live in Central WI and this pic was taken today, June 4th 2012. Please help us ID it so we can get rid of it!
Signature: apple lovers

Rose Chafers Mating

Dear apple lovers,
You have submitted a photograph of mating Rose Chafers, either
Macrodactylus subspinosus or Macrodactylus angustatus.  Here is what BugGuide has to say about the Rose Chafer:  “Adults emerge in early summer and feed on flowers, some leaves. They live for up to 6 weeks. Mating occurs on food sources. Eggs are laid deep (13-15 cm!) in soil and hatch in one to three weeks. Larvae feed on roots and overwinter deep in soil. Pupation in early spring in the soil, just under the surface.”

Letter 25 – Mating Rose Chafers

 

Subject: Marigold Destroyers
Location: Wisconsin (Upper Midwest)
June 25, 2013 6:03 am
I have a tremendous amount of these bugs engaging in an orgy on my marigolds and destroying them with their post-coital munching, I’m guessing. Can you tell me what they are and how to eradicate them?
Signature: Jacklyn

Mating Rose Chafers
Mating Rose Chafers

Dear Jacklyn,
We don’t generally give extermination advice, especially since with native species.  These are Rose Chafers in the genus
Macrodactylus which are also represented on BugGuide.  We would advise against pesticides which also kill beneficial insects and if you must control the numbers, we would recommend hand picking.

Letter 26 – Mating Rose Chafers

 

Subject: Imposing on Beetles
Location: Lindsay, Ontario, Canada
July 8, 2013 7:46 pm
I stumbled upon these beetles having what I assume is intercourse, but I cannot seem to identify them using Google (I thought it knew everything!). They are brownish with red/orange legs.
Perhaps you can help?
Photo was taken in July, on a hot, muggy day.
Signature: Confused Peeping Tom, apparently.

Mating Rose Chafers
Mating Rose Chafers

Dear Confused Peeping Tom,
Though your beetles are a bit darker, we believe these are mating Rose Chafers, Macrodactylus subspinosus.  You can compare your image to this photo of a mating pair of Rose Chafers from BugGuide.  When they are plentiful, Rose Chafers can do considerable damage in the garden.

Letter 27 – Mating Rose Chafers

 

Subject: Beetles
Location: Deep River, Ontario
July 5, 2017 6:11 pm
I encountered a cluster of beetles on a maple leaf but have now seen them on milkweed plants and hollyhocks. Please identify the species for me if possible.
Signature: Janet

Mating Rose Chafers

Dear Janet,
This is a positively gorgeous image of mating Rose Chafers,
Macrodactylus subspinosus, and we verified the identity on BugGuide where it states:  “Adult is herbivore, feeds on wide variety of flowers and foliage” and “Adults emerge in early summer and feed on flowers, some leaves. They live for up to 6 weeks. Mating occurs on food sources. Eggs are laid deep (13-15 cm!) in soil and hatch in one to three weeks. Larvae feed on roots and overwinter deep in soil. Pupation in early spring in the soil, just under the surface.”

Letter 28 – Rose Chafer

 

I can’t find this puppy on your site
I took this photo in the Tulsa Rose Garden yesterday. I can’t figure out what it is. Can you help me? Thanks
Chuck

hi Chuck,
This is a Rose Chafer, Macrodactylus subspinosus. We just read on BugGuide that the Rose Chafer contains the chemical cantharadin and if eaten, it can poison chickens.

Letter 29 – Rose Chafer

 

beetle ID?
Hi there. We live in Osgoode, Ontario and are having a terrible time with a beetle that is eating most of the plants and trees in our yard. Everything from apple trees to mountain ash to pole beans and peonies. Nothing is safe! I haven’t been able to identify the beetle last year or this year. It has eaten all of the new apples from the trees, the flowers from the peonies, lilacs and mountain ash, and is now feasting on the leaves of the ash trees and pole beans leaving a lacey leaf skeleton behind. Can you tell me what it is?
Diane

Hi Diane,
This is a Rose Chafer. This insect is commonly pictured as a destructive plant pest, though this year is the first year since we have been answering questions on the WWW that there have been numerous reports. This must be a population explosion year for this destructive scarab beetle.

Letter 30 – Rose Chafer

 

Could you tell me what this bug is? I live in Weare NH and I see it every year about this time. It feeds on my weeping cherry, lilac and has been found amoung other plants in my perennial garden. This year I’m also finding it in my annual baskets. Any help in identifying this bug would be appreciated.
Thanks
Laura

Hi Laura,
Your beetle is a Rose Chafer.

Letter 31 – Rose Chafer

 

What type of beetle is this?
June 8, 2010
Can you please help me to identify this beetle? There are thousands all over our yard right now, clinigng to plants in dozens and mating. We are worried that they may be harmful to our trees (white pine, red pine & jack pine)
Sincerely, Ken Hall
Shelburne, Ontario

Rose Chafer

Dear Ken,
This is a Rose Chafer, Macrodactylus subspinosus which is profiled on BugGuide, or Macrodactylus angustatus which according to BugGuide, is very similar and difficult to differentiate from its near relative.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults emerge in early summer and feed on flowers, some leaves. They live for up to 6 weeks. Mating occurs on food sources. Eggs are laid deep (13-15 cm!) in soil and hatch in one to three weeks. Larve feed on roots and overwinter deep in soil. Pupation occurs in early spring in the soil, just under the surface.  Adults contain cantharadin, can poison chickens, other birds.

Thank you very much for your identification.  Knowing that they don’t harm trees, we can just let them get on without worrying about them J
Take care,
Ken Hall

Letter 32 – Rose Chafer

 

Beach Beetle
Location: Warren Dunes State Park, MI
January 7, 2011 4:32 pm
I saw this Beetle drinking water from a sand ball on a beach in MI. Since then, I’ve looked everywhere trying to figure out what this beetle is; I even bought an Audobon Field Guide, but I’ve had no luck. I would love to finally know what my mysterious beetle is called. Thanks, so much, to whomever responds. : )
Signature: Ruth

Rose Chafer

Hi Ruth,
This is a Rose Chafer in the genus
Macrodactylus which means “large fingers”, according to BugGuide, a reference to the long claws.  Rose Chafers are classified in the subfamily Melolonthinae which includes May Beetles and June Bugs.

Letter 33 – Rose Chafers

 

Rose bush bug?
I was hoping you might be able to I.D. this bug for me … it appears to be some type of beetle. It appears on my rose bush in late May and stays pretty much to this one bush till it sucks the flowers dry ( dosn’t seem interested in the leaves .. just flower buds/ peddles ect. ) I have rarly seen it on my other roses ( Florabundas and Grandafloras, and a few Hybrid Tea’s … I have however seen them on my snow ball bush once . Once it destroys the flowers on the bush it just disappears till the next year . Do these bugs hatch from the ground ?? If so would planting garlic or chives help to discourage them ?
Thanks for any info you can give me!
Denise Dafoe
Tweed , Ontario , Canada

Hi Denise,
You have an infestation of Rose Chafer Beetles, Macrodactylus subspinosus. According to BugGuide: “Adults contain cantharadin, can poison chickens, other birds. ”  Rose Chafers have a habit of mating and eating at the same time.

Letter 34 – Rose Chafers

 

please help me
I have these bugs that just eats all my roses and peony plants I have nothing left in the garden can you tell me what bug it is ?So I can get rid of them Please help me.
Carole

Hi Carole,
These arev Rose Chafers, Macrodactylus subspinosus, and they are notorious garden defoliators.  It appears as though they are mating as well as eating.

Letter 35 – Mating Rose Chafers

 

Subject: Pls identify
Location: Southern Ontario, Frankford
June 6, 2016 5:14 pm
We have recently planted 32 various tree and shrubs on our property including maples spruce pines dogwood aspen etc and now have them ALL covered with these beetles. Can you pls idenitfy and advise on how to get rid of them.
Thank you
Signature: D DRAKE

Mating Rose Chafers
Mating Rose Chafers

Dear D DRAKE,
These are mating Rose Chafers,
Macrodactylus subspinosus, and you may verify our identification on BugGuide which states:  “Adults emerge in early summer and feed on flowers, some leaves. They live for up to 6 weeks. Mating occurs on food sources. Eggs are laid deep (13-15 cm!) in soil and hatch in one to three weeks. Larvae feed on roots and overwinter deep in soil. Pupation in early spring in the soil, just under the surface.  Adults contain cantharadin, can poison chickens, other birds.”  We do not provide extermination advice, but now that you know what you are dealing with, you can do additional research.

Letter 36 – Rose Chafers defoliate garden in Wisconsin

 

Help! They are eating everything.
Location: Wisconsin
June 19, 2011 8:37 am
Hello, I hope you can help. I have insects all over my cherry tree, lemon balm, and geraniums. They are eating and destroying the leaves, flowers, and fruit. I have included a photo. I do not use chemicals and would like to find a natural way to get rid of them, any suggestions would be great. Thanks!
Signature: Soon to be plantless in Wisconsin

Rose Chafers

Dear Soon to be plantless in Wisconsin,
You have Rose Chafers, a native species of May Beetle that can do significant damage to many cultivated plants when they are numerous.  We just learned on BugGuide that “Adults contain cantharadin, can poison chickens, other birds” meaning that one of the best means of biological control through natural predation is not an option.  We would recommend hand picking the beetles and destroying them.

Letter 37 – Scarab Beetle, but is it a Rose Chafer???

 

photo fan
June 10, 2010
Hello fellow bugnuts!
Many of the photos you post are positively breathtaking. Have you ever considering posting a section on hints for those of us with a bug-photo addiction?
Just for fun, I’m including a shot of a male sedge sprite damselfy and a rose chafer doing a “handstand”.
Thanks so much for your wonderful site!
Don D, St. Augusta, MN
Central MN

Scarab Beetle

Hi again Don,
We have already addressed some photo tips in the posting of your Sedge Sprite, and now we can address this image of a Scarab Beetle.  The camera perspective, while it has created a whimsical image of the beetle, is not fully conducive to providing the best angle for identification purposes.  With beetles, this is generally a dorsal view.  We are not fully convinced that this Scarab is a Rose Chafer because we haven’t the advanced skills necessary to make that type of identification based on this unusual camera angle.  The legs on this Scarab do not appear as long as the legs of a Rose Chafer.  Do you perhaps have a less creative image that you can submit for identification purposes?

Hi Daniel.
Wow, what a generous response!  I am grateful for your time and advice.
Here’s another shot of the Scarab beetle.  As so often happens, I didn’t think it was anything remarkable when I was shooting, as I was looking for something else (damselflies).
Sorry I don’t have a better one.
The same thing happened the other day when I took a “throwaway” shot of a really ugly caterpillar I thought was just another icky sawfly.  It turned out to be a skipper caterpillar.
Thanks again for taking the time to help me with my habit!
Don D.

Scarab Beetle

Hi again Don,
Thanks for sending us another view of this Scarab.  We still question it being a Rose Chafer, but this angle should allow for a better chance of identification.  Alas, we think it is time to request assistance.

Daniel,
Thanks for your help, but don’t knock yourself out.  You’ve given me too much time already.
It’s going to be raining here for a couple of days, but maybe I can get you a better shot between downpours.
Don

Input from Eric Eaton
June 9, 2010
Daniel:
The scarab is either a Macrodactylus or a Hoplia.  I’m leaning toward the latter because of the relatively short legs.  Don’t know what species occur up there, though.  You might want to refer the submitter to Bugguide.  We have at least two folks who are scarab experts there.
Take care!
Eric

Thanks Eric,
The images of Scarabs in the genus Hoplia posted to BugGuide do look like a closer match than the Rose Chafer genus Macrodactylus posted to BugGuide.

Letter 38 – Rose Chafer

 

Identification needed
December 13, 2009
Hi, I took this picture of this beetle in Acadia National Park and for the life of me I can’t identify it! Can you?
Mike McNeill
Acadia National Park

Beetle
December 6, 2009
Took this photo in Camden Maine this past July and can’t find any identification. Can you help?
Mike McNeil
North East US

Unknown Scarab
Rose Chafer

Hi Mike,
We were going through older emails yesterday, and we saw your original identification request, but since the photo was taken during the summer, and because we really like to try to post letters with timely sightings, we went to a different letter.  Today, we noticed your second submission and decided to take a bit of time to try to identify your Scarab Beetle.  Alas, we have failed.  We checked BugGuide, and we did not have any luck with a conclusive ID among the May Beetle and June Bugs in the subfamily Melolonthinae, nor in the Fruit and Flower Chafer subfamily Cetoniinae.  We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he is able to assist in a proper identification.  The closest possibility for us was the Variegated June Beetle, Polyphylla variolosa, but it just doesn’t seem correct.

Thanks for getting back to me. Sorry I didnt write sooner but I just heard of your site last weekend at my Camera Naturalist winter meeting. Please let me know if you have any luck. I’ll continue to search as well.
Regards
Mike McNeill

Hi, Daniel:
Well, you have the right family, anyway.  This is a really worn specimen of the “rose chafer,” Macrodactylus subspinosus, ala this image at Bugguide:
http://bugguide.net/node/view/133188/bgimage
Worn specimens always present a challenge.
Eric

Damn, that was quick!! Thank you!!

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com 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.

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  • 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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11 thoughts on “Rose Chafer Beetle: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell”

  1. We have these same beetles they showed up last year eating the red clover in my lawn. Mating on the clover and eating all the good stuff none left for tea. They are also eating the ox eye daiseys in my lawn just the pettles leaving only the yellow circle, realy worried they are close to the veggie garden.

    Reply
  2. thanks for the ID. will it be possible for the moderator to mention the family of the beetle? genus species name is indeed helpful but if you can provide with the family ID will be easier.

    Reply
  3. Thank you so much for the response! I was hoping to post this to my “cool specie of the day” twitter account (@AliensFromEarth) but I needed a name and a better picture. Now I have both!

    Reply
  4. I believe this is an Oriental Beetle. I saw them a lot when I was growing up in Queens, NY in the 50s and 60s. They kept landing in our backyard pool, and I kept rescuing them. I never knew what they were until the Internet came along.

    Reply
  5. Hi, I’m Derrick and I’m new to this site… My reason for joining is as a result of a discovery I made. I love taking pictures, especially of nature/things around. While walking around the yard, I spotted a bright red thing close to the ground. At first I thought it was a berry as there are some growing at different spots in the yard. Upon closer inspection, it was hanging upside down on a web. It looked at one point like a black spider carrying a large red bug, then I thought “spiders carry their eggs too.. but I’ve never seen a red egg sack before. It turned out to be that the whole thing was the “spider”. I Googled it but the closest I’ve come to identifying it is the Florinda Coccinea. I figure there are many species of spiders and variations of specific types, but the pictures I found were all red except for maybe a spot or 2. The creature I found is red with black patterns on the side. I will try to upload. I would like to know what it is… I live in the tropics (Jamaica), and I’ve never come across this creature before in my yard (and I have scoured my yard many times while taking pictures especially. It’s the ending of November and I know certain species like the crab orb weaver shows up around this time, so I was wondering if this thing I found is seasonal as well.. Thanks for any assistance you are able to give… I like your site….

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  6. I found a fiddler Beetle in my barbeque area at Leonay (near Penrith)NSW 5/2/22. I did not know what it was so I checked on google and saw it. Our is dark brown & green.

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  7. Found a fiddler beetle in Adelaide, near the city, January 2023. Thanks to this site for helping me identify it. Never seen one before, very beautiful.

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