Monday, 17 May 2010

Darling bug of May

The arrival of this daft-looking creature, the maybug or cockchafer, always makes me smile. You couldn't make its appearance up. This one was much too dozy to fly but when they do, they cannon around like demented rockets. I wonder why they developed such impressive armour and so intimidating an appearance. There is any amount of entertaining information on cockchafers, which were one of the most obvious pests in simple farming times. They were put on trial in mediaeval France, used as toys by children (some of whom may have become entomologists...) and eaten in various startling recipes, one including sugar. My favourite reference is Thumbelina, where the lady cockroaches sit around discussing how ugly Thumbelina is - " Why, she has not even more than two legs!—that has a wretched appearance." " She has not any feelers!" cried another." Her waist is quite slender—fie!" In his gentle way, Hans Christian Andersen makes his valid point about beauty and the beholder.
Otherwise things continue very quiet, but at last it is getting warmer.
Here is a pug - I'm assuming a Brindled one, because most of them are at this time of year - adopting a 'butterfly pose' as they do when disturbed. The cockchafer certainly can't so this; its wings lie concealed and folded under its armour-plated wingcases, although a little scrap was sticking out above the tail of mine, like someone who hasn't tucked in their shirt properly.


Phil said...

Hi Martin, Haven't seen a maybug yet this year. I rather like the nifty white triangles along their sides, under the wing cases. Every few years we get a mass emergence in the grounds of one or other of the Durham university colleges and they end up clattering and buzzing around lights in student rooms at dusk, promoting hysteria in some cases. I gather maybugs are quite a problem in some parts of Europe, particularly in orchards where the larvae feed on grass and tree roots and the adults damage fruit tree blossom - I recall reading somewhere that orchard owners spread fine nets over the ground between the trees, to try to catch the adults during mass emergences, which happen every 3-4 years.All the best,Phil

MartinWainwright said...

Hi Phil!

I very much agree about the triangles. Maybe it's a shark's tooth pattern, like the ones fighter pilots painted on jets. Watch out here I come...maybug, maybug, maybug...
Your Durham Uni experiences were mirrored this morning by Penny who saw the pic and said Ugh and remembered some of her fellow students at Exeter being terrified as maybugs whammed round their rooms. Not surprisingly really cos they're so out of control. Like giant bumble-bees. btw do you know why bumble-bees have this suicidal habit of coming indoors. I believe that cucumber-growers value it for pollination, but it's bad news for the bees. We keep taking them outside but they are equally determined to get back in. All v best for now M.

Phil said...

Hi Martin, don't really know what the potentially fatal attraction is for bumblebees - we spend a lot of time with a beer mat and glass trapping them against a window in our small conservatory and ushering them out into the garden. When my pitcher plants flower in spring (v. intense scent like a bed of stinging nettles) they go berserk trying to get back in then spend all their time bouncing against the windows, trying to get out again... all the best, Phil