Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Clumsy Scarab

Rose Chafer, Cetonia aurata
An impressively sized beetle, the Rose Chafer (Cetonia aurata) certainly doesn't shy away from being noticed. One of the 35 species of scarab beetles present in Ireland (1), its green-bronze thorax and elytra (which also bear white flecks) (2) glints attractively in the sunlight as it buzzes noisily around searching for food. When it does find food it rather clumsily waddles about to get the best point at which to eat it, often knocking itself to the ground with its efforts. 
Rose Chafer, Cetonia aurata, feeding on grass seed
They feed upon flowers, nectar, pollen and, in the case of the individual picture, seeds, meaning they pose a threat to agricultural produce (3). Ingeniously, control of C. aurata is achieved by attraction using synthetic floral scents and colours and subsequent trapping (4). C. aurata has shown a particular preference for the colour blue and a scent composed of (E)-Anethol, 3-Methyl eugenol, 1-Phenylethanol  and (±)-Lavandulol. However, unlike many other chafer species, the larvae of C. aurata do not pose a threat to agriculture. Auite the opposite in fact: they are detritivores and create very good compost when present in significant numbers in the soil.
Rose Chafer, Cetonia aurata
  1. Ferriss et al., 2009. Irish Biodiversity: a taxonomic inventory of fauna.p. 98
  2. Sterry, 2004. Collins Complete Guide to Irish Wildlife p. 148
  3. Voigt et al., 2005. Agrofórum 16 pp. 63-64
  4. Vuts et al., 2010. Crop Protection 29 pp. 1177-1183

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