Cockchaffer (Melolontha melolontha)

/ / Terrestrial Inverts


Melolontha melolontha is closely related to the smaller Summer Chaffer (Amphimallon solstitialis), however their emergence time is different.  M. melolontha emerges around May and A. solstitialis appears around the summer solstice in June (1). M. melolontha is around 25 to 30 mm in size (2).  The head and thorax are black in colour and may be covered in grey hairs.  The wing cases are tan to red coloured.  Their bodies are bulky and their wing cases are shiny (3).  The larvae are C-shaped and are an off-white colour.  They have a brown head and can be over three centimetres in size when fully grown (1).

Life Cycle

Adults appear in April or in May and live only five to seven weeks.  After two weeks the female starts to lay eggs.  The female buries up to 200 eggs in the ground (3).   Larvae hatch after four to six weeks and they eat plant roots.  The grubs stay under the ground for between three and five years depending on the climate (1).  In early autumn, when the grubs are about five centimetets, they pupate.  After six weeks they develop into adult Melolontha melolontha. Adults eat oak leaves and conifer needles (2).


They fly around tree tops in the evenings, attracted to artificial and natural lights (4).


They can be found in gardens, woods and hedgerows (4).


Melolontha melolontha is widespread across much of Europe and the Mediterranean region.


Description written by Aino Helakallio (2009)

(1)   The Natural History Museum (2009) Cockchaffer or Maybug [online] Available: [date accessed: 22/05/2009]

(2)   Kendall Bioresearch (2009) Cockchafers or ‘Maybugs’ and other Chafers [online] Available: [date accessed: 22/05/2009]

(3)   Bromly, London (2008) Cockchaffer (May Bug, June Bug) [online] Available: [date accessed: 22/05/2009]

(4)   Chinery. M. (2007) Insects of Britain and Western Europe, Domino Books Ltd, London