Among the many pests that can affect our plants, an unwelcome and very common guest, the beetle insect belonging to the family of beetles.
The beetle is the common name of the Melolontha melolontha and is a plant pest that can affect several tree species, annual or perennial, spontaneous or ornamental.
This insect is widespread throughout Europe and is also very common in Italy, especially in the northern part of our peninsula.
How to Recognize a Beetle?
An adult cockchafer has a length varying from twenty to thirty millimeters, is endowed with an elongated body and has the thickest front wing, characteristic of all the beetles and the hemipterans, of reddish-brown color and the part between the head and the darkest abdomen (blackish or greenish).
Many times, the elytra, the forewings, of some cockchafers, are covered by white scales. The thorax and the head are black.
The adult cockchafer has the final part of the abdomen, called pygidium, of triangular shape, with the terminal part pointed and curved downwards. The lower part of the abdomen has black and white stripes.
The antennas are formed by a cable and a fan with articles which may vary in number depending on the sex.
Beetle Insect Parasite What Does It Eat?
The adult cockchafer feeds on leaves, but generally does not give major problems to the plants when its presence is limited, in the case of severe infestations instead is able to eat the leaves of an entire tree.
The real problem is represented instead by the larvae of this parasite, very hungry with a very long larval stage can cause much damage.
Let’s see how to recognize a larva of a cockchafer, although these live underground close to the roots of the plants.
With a greater length than the adult individual, the larvae of the cockchafer can reach even the 40 millimetres, have a characteristic C shape, therefore quite recognizable, of whitish color, have the head and the legs orange and the final part of the abdomen swollen of a darker colour.
They live in the soil in the part adjacent to the roots they eat. With an insatiable appetite lasting for the whole larval stage, about three years, the larvae of the cockchafer can make real disasters in our garden.
After the first year of life, the small larvae of the cockchafer dig into the ground to shelter themselves from the winter cold and thus hibernate in deeper areas, from which they will return in the warmer spring periods, starting to eat in a ravenous way the roots of the plants.
The cycle is repeated for the next 3 years, after which, having reached the end of the third year in springtime in May, from which the name Maggiolino derives, they begin to change and flicker.
Beetle Insect From The Deadly Larvae, How To Fight It?
Infested plants have decay, poor development, premature fall of leaves in spring and withering during the summer. In the case of more severe infestations, the plants can also die.
Among the fruit plants that are most infested by this parasite there are undoubtedly apples and vineyards, not disdaining ornamental plants and spontaneous.
How To Prevent An Infestation Of Larvae?
There are several remedies to avoid infestation with beetle larvae
You can use nets placed on the ground obviously before the flickering of the cockchafer in May and thus avoid the laying of eggs by this parasite in our orchard or vineyard.
Making The Soil Unfavorable To This Pest
using very mature organic fertilizer, thus making the soil unwelcome to the parasite and prevent it from laying its eggs.
Eliminate Beetle Larvae With Chemical Remedies
Chemical control of cockchafer larvae is only undertaken in the event of serious infestation of the larvae of this parasite. There are various insecticides and chemical products on the market that can be used, in which case an expert should advise you on the most suitable treatment to be carried out, especially if they are large crops to avoid economic damage.