The white, plump larvae of the chafer devour the roots of plants in the garden. Remaining several years underground, they wreak havoc!
Discover our preventive control methods and our natural treatments to overcome them.
Several species of chafer
This insect is a beetle that is part of the Scarabaeidae family. Measuring 2cm to 3cm long, it has small antennae and bulging, hard wings. Mahogany-brown in color, it is especially in the larval stage that it is feared. The larvae are creamy-white with a light brown head and the other end marked by a dark spot. There are several species of chafer that ravage crops. In the garden most of the time, there are two:
- The common chafer (Melolontha melolontha): its elytra (wings) are slightly streaked and mahogany in color. It is recognizable by its antennae which forms a brown fan. Living in shrubs or trees, female insects lay eggs in the soil of the vegetable garden.
- The horticultural chafer ( Phyllopertha horticola ): a little smaller than the previous one, it measures barely 1cm long. His whole body is black, except for his elytra which are reddish-brown. This species is found in lawns or meadows.
→ Warning: do not confuse the larvae of the chafer with those of the golden ketones. Unlike the chafer, the golden keto feeds on the debris of dead plants. They are therefore useful in the garden, it is better to preserve them. They are smaller and translucent white in color, while the June beetle larvae are more yellowish-white, almost creamy.
In April-May, adult beetles emerge from the ground and begin to breed. The females lay about 20 eggs which will give birth to larvae about 6 weeks later. Unlike other pests, the larval period is very long: 3 years! Three years during which the larvae will molt, before emerging from the earth after their metamorphosis. So even though adult insects only live for one month, every year new ones emerge from the earth. Indeed, it is the larvae laid three years ago that then make their appearance.
Symptoms and damage
It is easy to spot adult insects that fly in numbers in May. Their flight is particularly loud and heavy.
The larvae buried in the soil of the vegetable garden, are not easy to spot. If your plants and seedlings are dying, it may be because of these white grubs. Dig them up, you will see that the roots have been completely nibbled away …
Prevent the appearance of the chafer
Favor natural predators
Birds, moles, and hedgehogs make short work of these pest insects. To invite them to the garden, plant a varied hedge, leave a few piles of branches in a corner, install a small untreated water point, or keep a meadow space. The natural gardens keep a place for the small fauna which gives it back to them by avoiding an attack of pests, often caused by an imbalance.
Rather than plowing, prefer to hoe your soil so as not to alter microbial life. By hoeing regularly, you will expose the larvae. This will make them easier to catch for their predators. If you have a few hens, now is the time to release them to the vegetable garden!
- Systematically destroy any chafer larva that crosses your path by burning it
- Obtain nematodes that you spray on the soil in the garden
- Water copiously but less often, in order to leave room for a short period of drought feared by the larvae of the chafer