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
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