Dropped my son off at holiday club today and had to stop short of the school door and stoop to rescue a sizeable insect. The staff member sent for another bug-loving kid to come and see this sloth-some beast upon my finger tip…. it was a rather sluggish May Bug, otherwise known as Cockchafer Beetle, or my favourite vernacular, Doodlebug. I could not be sure if it was a male or female, recalling something about antennae, but at the suggestion of one of the children we placed it on a convenient shrub in the school garden a few feet away, safe from trampling feet in the doorway.
Just as I was explaining how the males can detect female pheromones on the wind and speculating that the security light over the door had been on overnight and attracted it, something wonderful happened. We watch as the beetle, now safely balanced upon a viburnum bush unfurled its antennae (I did not know they did this) and sure enough there were feathery brown appendages rippling as if tasting the air.
Now, I did not have my phone camera on me, (foolishly – its #30DaysWild for goodness sake, #Day2 no less!) but I was contemplating my options. Could I nip back for the phone? A crisis interrupted us as ‘Pikachu’ had fallen out of son’s rucksack en route, so I hurriedly retraced steps, rescued the yellow Pokemon and reunited him with a grateful six year old.
Meanwhile, and this was only minutes, the Cockchafer must have taken to wing for it was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he (for I now suspected this to be its gender) had detected the whiff of a female of the species…..Perhaps, since it was after 8am and broad daylight, he had simply flown away to a safer hiding place until nightfall.
Here is a link to info on Cockchafers or Doodlebugs found on Arkive. http://www.arkive.org/common-cockchafer/melolontha-melolontha/
And below, since I failed to get my own pics, some images sourced via Wikipedia: