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Archive for June 12th, 2010

In order to make room for a few new perennials, I removed some sod from the lawn and expanded a garden bed. As I was taking up the sod, I noticed that there were a lot of small beetles flying around where I was working. They seemed to be coming from the area where I had removed the sod. I took a photo of one of these dudes, the better to identify them and learned that they are rose chafers (Macrodactylus subspinosus). Their classification looks like this:

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Family Scarabaeidae (Scarab Beetles)
Subfamily Melolonthinae (May Beetles and June Bugs)
Genus Macrodactylus
Species subspinosus (Rose Chafer)

So they are a type of scarab beetle that are related to June bugs. The adults emerge in early summer. They are herbivores, and feed on a wide variety of flowers and leaves, so it’s not clear why they are named Rose Chafers. They live for up to 6 weeks, mating on food sources. Eggs are laid deep in soil, up to 6 inches, and hatch in one to three weeks. Larvae then feed on roots and overwinter deep in the soil. In early spring, the larvae pupate in the soil, just under the surface, and emerge as adults to begin the cycle again.

It was soon possible to see the rose chafers mating on their food source! Pictured below are rose chafers on a coneflower (echinacea purpurea alba). I think that I must have removed the sod just as the adult rose chafers were about to emerge and helped them on their way.

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