Insect identification > Coleoptera > True Coleoptera > Rose chafer

Rose chafer


The rose chafer (Macrodactylus subspinosus Fab.). - This insect occurs all over the Eastern United States as far south as Virginia and Tennessee and west to Colorado, being particularly abundant and destructive in sandy localities. The adult beetle is about a third of an inch long, rather stout, though less so in proportion to its length than are the June bugs, dull yellow, with pale red legs which are long and slender.

It appears about the time roses begin to bloom, i.e., in May in the South and in June in the more northern part of its range, and attacks a large number of plants.

It seems originally to have been a rose feeder; later it became a serious pest of the grape and is now destructive to many fruit and shade trees and shrubs, and even to garden fruits and vegetables when abundant, eating blossoms, leaves and any fruit which may be available during its adult condition.

The eggs are laid a little below the surface of the ground, preferably in sandy soil, and in 2 to 3 weeks hatch into small white grubs which feed on plant roots until late in the fall; then each works deeper into the ground and forms an earthen cell in which to winter.
Pupation occurs in the spring and after 2 to 4 weeks the adult beetle digs its way to the surface. There is only one generation each year.

Control.- Hand picking, though tedious, is effective where practicable if done every day to get the adults coming from other plants. Clusters of grapes can be bagged. Harrowing the breeding grounds of the insect to a depth of three or four inches, during the time they are pupae, i.e., the latter part of May for the central part of their range, destroys many of the pupae which appear to be very easily killed by any disturbance while in this stage. The difficulty with this is to locate the areas where they are breeding most abundantly. Light, sandy ground will generally prove to be the place for such treatment.

This insect seems to have a poisonous effect when eaten by small chicks, many dying within a day or two after feeding on rose chafers.

In the West the western rose chafer and several species of Hoplia seem to play much the same role as the rose chafer does in the East. Their life history does not appear to have been worked out but probably does not differ greatly from that of the rose chafer, and the treatments are practically the same.

The beetles of all the species range from about one-quarter to one-half an inch in length and are light brown, grayish, mottled, or black with brown, orange-yellow or olive, either in spots or entirely concealing the black. Grape, rose, grease­wood, blackberry, etc., are the chief food plants.