Green Beetle 2 by David Clarke

About three weeks ago in late May, the pyracanthus ‘Soleil d’Or’ in our garden in Tuscany was in full bloom and alive with insects. Among the invading horde buzzing around me as I approached with my camera was this vivid green beetle who was feasting in delight on the abundance of delicious pollen. It was fascinating to watch it and its companions making their way among the flowers, with legs sticking out in all directions grasping a petal here and a leaf their in order to maintain balance.

After hunting around google, I’m pretty confident these beetles are Rose Chafers, the distinctive feature being the small triangular area between the wing cases just below the thorax. Most rose chafers also have extra irregular marks at the rear end of the wing cases. This one didn’t but on looking at other shots I took of its family and friends, most of them did. Some also had more of a bronze sheen. The full entry from Mr Wikipedia is below – it’s worth going to it since it has an excellent shot of the flight path of these beetles.

Mr Wikipedia: ’Cetonia aurata, known as the rose chafer, or more rarely as the green rose chafer, is a beetle, 20 mm (¾ in) long, that has metallic green coloration (but can be bronze, copper, violet, blue/black or grey) with a distinct V shaped scutellum, the small triangular area between the wing cases just below the thorax, and having several other irregular small white lines and marks. The underside is a coppery colour.

Rose chafers are capable of very fast flight; they do it with their wing cases down thus resembling a bumble bee. They feed on flowers, nectar and pollen, in particular roses (from where they get their name); which is where they can be found on warm sunny days, between May and June/July, occasionally to September.

The larvae are C–shaped, have a very firm wrinkled hairy body, a very small head and tiny legs; they move on their backs, which is a very quick way to identify them. Larvae overwinter wherever they have been feeding, that is in compost, manure, leafmould or rotting wood, and they pupate in June/July. Some adult beetles might emerge in the autumn, but the main emergence is in the spring when they mate. Following mating, the females lay their eggs in decaying organic matter, and then die. Larvae grow very fast, and before the end of autumn they would all have moulted twice. They have a two year life cycle.

Rose chafers are found over southern and central Europe and the southern part of the UK where they seem to be sometimes very localized. They are a very beneficial saprophagous species (detritivore), their larvae are the insect equivalent of earth worms and help make very good compost where they are often found in great numbers.

The metallic green colouring of the beetle’s surface is the reflection of mostly circularly polarised light, typically left circularly polarized light. When viewed through a right circular polariser, they appear to be colourless. Many species of scarab beetles (scarabaeidae) are known to emit typically left circularly polarised light.

Thanks very much to Liz (noffi) and Jacqi for prompting me to seek out this information.

Canon 1DMkII with Canon 70-200mm f4L IS lens at 70mm and Canon EB12 tube; ISO400 f16 1/320. Cropped and adjusted in Lightroom

Uploaded 13 June 2009
Number of views on 25 July 2012: 1241

Living for partly in Italy, partly in Phuket and partly in other locations around the world – Hong Kong & Kenya when I can – I spend a lot of time photographing anything and everything. I particularly enjoy the challenge of capturing shots of wildlife large and small – from elephants to insects. A wider selection of my work can be seen on my website at

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  • kathy s gillentine
    kathy s gillen...almost 6 years ago

    Fantastic capture david

  • Thanks very much, Kathy:))

    – David Clarke

  • robmac
    robmacalmost 6 years ago

    Great shot David one of the jewel beetles

  • Thanks very much, Rob!

    – David Clarke

  • Brandie1
    Brandie1almost 6 years ago

    Fantastic macro,David.

  • Thanks very much, Brandie!

    – David Clarke

  • Jimmy Joe
    Jimmy Joealmost 6 years ago


  • Many thanks, Gerrardt:))

    – David Clarke

  • BigD
    BigDalmost 6 years ago

    Excellent macro, David

  • Thanks very much, David:)

    – David Clarke

  • noffi
    noffialmost 6 years ago

    David…I really like the iridescent green glow in the beetle’s shell. You have caugfht it so well. Do you know what kind of beetle it is? We have some here in Ohio that are imports and are called japanese beetles. They also have a shimmering green shell.

  • Thanks very much, Liz. I’ve just carried a bit of research and it would seem these are Rose Chafers (Cetonia aurata). The distinctive feature is the small triangular area between the wing cases just below the thorax – see Green Beetle 1. Most rose chafers have extra irregular shaped marks on the rear end of the wing cases. This one doesn’t appear to have them but I’ve looked at the other shots I took of its family and friends and several of the do have those marks. Some also had a bronze sheen. It would seem they are a southern & central European species. I’ve put a more complete blurb in the accompanying note. Thanks again for prompting me to complete the picture :))

    – David Clarke

  • John44
    John44almost 6 years ago

    What a fine shot of a horrible insect David :-)
    Looking to your gear .. well you are ‘well’ equipped to ‘nail’ the bugs.
    Good eye, good shot.
    Ariverdechi Davide


  • Ti ringrazio molto, Giovanni! Actually I think it’s quite a cute bug, but my wife does complain that they munch the roses!

    – David Clarke

  • John44
    John44almost 6 years ago

    Give her a nice bottle of Perfume..
    Might help

  • Good suggestion!!

    – David Clarke

  • chijude
    chijudealmost 6 years ago

    Now that is a real emerald green!! Great image!

  • Thanks so much, Jude, and thanks for the fav!!

    – David Clarke

  • Sandy Stewart
    Sandy Stewartalmost 6 years ago

    Very nicely taken angle of the Rose Chafer! Lovely colors and iridescence on Rose Chafer! : )

  • Thanks very much, Sandy, much appreciated!

    – David Clarke

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