Hoplia philanthus (Füessly, 1775)

Welsh Chafer

Suborder:

Superfamily:

Family:

Subfamily:

Tribe:

Genus:

POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

SCARABAEOIDEA Latreille, 1802

SCARABAEIDAE Latreille, 1802

MELOLONTHINAE Leach, 1819

HOPLIINI Latreille, 1829

HOPLIA Illiger, 1803

A local and sporadic species of central and western Europe; in some central and southern areas it is locally common and sometimes a pest of ornamental turf whereas further north it becomes generally rare e.g. it is classed as threatened in southern Sweden and Denmark although in the UK it is locally common throughout England and Wales, being predominantly coastal in the west. Typical habitats include parkland, wooded borders, scrubland and grassland generally from lowland to low mountain altitudes although in Denmark it is known only from salt marshes. The diurnal adults are active in warm weather when they may be observed on foliage and flowers or in flight above grass or around shrubs etc. They have a short season, from late May or June until July, and are generally most abundant when Phyllopertha populations are declining, mating occurs on foliage or flowers early in the season and oviposition begins in June and extends over a four week period. Soon after mating the females enter the soil and lay batches of eggs between 10 and 15cm below the surface, they generally feed between several egg-laying sessions and each will lay between 25 and 40 eggs in total. Larvae emerge within 25 to 30 days and feed on fine roots of herbaceous and woody plants, remaining at depth as they do so, and moult after 6 weeks or so. Second instars continue feeding and are fully grown by late summer, at this time they feed closer to the surface and when present in large numbers may damage turf; severely damaged turf becomes dry and loose and can be rolled-up as the roots are extensively destroyed, and the damage may become more obvious as predators such as birds and moles remove the turf to predate the larvae. During late summer they move deeper into the soil to overwinter, some will moult at this time to overwinter as third stage larvae but many will remain in the second stage and moult after a further period of feeding in the spring. Pupation occurs in the soil from May and adults eclose after 4 or 5 weeks, they remain in the soil for a few days to harden and generally emerge in numbers so that they may suddenly become abundant. They will spend some time maturation feeding before they mate, flowers and foliage of a range of herbaceous and woody plants are consumed but they seem to prefer birch, beech and hornbeam, and they will often be seen on white flowers such as umbels, Rosa and Rubus.

At 7-11mm this small chafer might casually be mistaken for Phyllopertha but the single meta-tarsal claw is distinctive among our fauna. Head, pronotum and scutellum black, elytra brown, legs black in the male and pale in the female. Head, pronotum and scutellum coarsely punctured and with sparse small white scales and erect dark pubescence.  Elytra lacking distinct striae and with scattered pale scale-like pubescence; quadrate in the female, slightly elongate in the male. Legs long and stout; pro-tibiae with 3 prominent lateral teeth, meso- and metatibiae with short spines throughout. Tarsi 5-5-5, segments 1-4 with an apical ring of short spines, terminal segment long and curved. Pro- and mesotarsi with 2 long and curved claws, the outer about half the length of the inner, and all longitudinally divided from the apex. Metatarsi with a single long and curved claw longitudinally split from the apex.

All text on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

For information on image rights, click HERE.