Cetonia aurata (Linnaeus, 1758)   The Rose Chafer

Author - Conall Murray (Junior Section)

The Rose Chafer. Occurs locally throughout southern England and Wales, less common in central England and rare in the north, very rare in southern Scotland. Adults can be found from May to August visiting a variety of flowers in bright sunshine where they feed on pollen, nectar and fruits. They were formally considered pests of roses; the larvae do not attack plants but the adults feed on flowers. Numbers fluctuate and the species may be more common in some years than others, the species has become rarer and more local over recent years in many parts of the country (Jessop). Our single Watford record is from Cassiobury park on 13th July 2008, when a single female was observed feeding on an isolated hogweed flower in hot sunshine. Eggs are laid in early summer and larvae develop in rotting vegetation; compost heaps etc. (Britton), beneath grassland (Gratwick, 1992)or in rotting wood (Chinery, 2005), taking two or three years to reach maturity. Whitehead (2004) records the larvae developing among the wood and roots of damaged Holm oak (Quercus ilex). They occur around mature tree decay generally and in nests of ants (Formica spp.). Pupation occurs in a subterranean earthen cell and adults emerge in late summer but remain to overwinter in the soil and appear in late spring or early summer when the soil temperature is above 15C.

14-21mm. Almost unmistakeable, bright metallic green with various white transverse markings across the elytra towards the apex. A black form is found in Cornwall. The only species with which it might be confused is Protaetia metallica (Herbst), a dull coppery green species of northern England and southern Scotland. In Cetonia the apical margin of the elytra is sinuate, in Protaetia it is straight.

Description from 1 Watford specimen at X10

Chinery, M. 2005. Complete British insects. Harper Collins
Gratwick, M. 1992. Crop pests in the UK. Chapman and Hall Whitehead, P.F. 2004. Cetonia aurata breeding on Holm oak in Somerset. The coleopterist 13(1) 23-25