When the garden is buzzing in spring and summer, the cockchafer (Melolontha) and the June beetle (Amphimallon solstitiale) are often part of it. Cockchafers are better known and are often recognised, but sometimes it can be the June bugs that stand out in the garden and can be just as damaging to the plants as the cockchafers. The following article explains the differences that still exist.

Close relationship between the two beetle species

Both beetle species are closely related, as both belong to the superspecies of scarab beetles. Above all, the damage caused in the garden by both beetle species can be very high if the living conditions are right. Both species lay eggs deep in the ground, from which the grubs hatch. In the soil, these larvae feed mainly on the roots of the plants cultivated here. In the event of a massive infestation, the plants are damaged to such an extent that they die. In addition, both beetle species eat the leaves of all plants in the garden when they are adults, and a massive infestation can also cause major damage to the plants. But there are also the following differences:

  • Look
  • damage volume
  • living conditions
  • larvae


The may beetle is already known to children from many stories and books. It got its name because its main flight time is in May, but under certain circumstances it can last longer. Melolontha belongs to the leafhorn beetle family. These beetles have particularly eye-catching antennae, which the males use to track down the females during the mating season. The peculiarity of the may beetle is above all that they spend almost their entire life as grubs under the ground and as a mature beetle only spend about four to six weeks above the ground. Here they reproduce, the females lay their eggs in the ground, after which they die. There are the following additional findings about the may beetle:

  • Flight speed up to 8 km/h
  • natural predators are birds, mice, hedgehogs
  • based in Europe
  • massive swarm infestation every three to four years
  • three different types are known
Note: If you have to deal with cockchafers in your garden from time to time, you may have noticed that there are more cockchafers flying about every three to four years than in the other years. This is due to the life cycle where the larvae spend three to four years in the soil. If they then come to light as finished beetles, new eggs are laid, which also resurface as beetles after three to four years.


The differences between the two beetle species also lie in their appearance, which can be described as follows for the May beetle:

  • Size between 25 and 30 millimeters
  • Weight between 0.4 and 0.9 grams
  • Abdomen runs out narrow
  • brown translucent wings
  • brown/orange legs
  • black body
  • Chest and head white hairs
  • white sawtooth pattern runs below the wings

claims volume

Large numbers of may beetles can cause a great deal of damage. Individual cockchafers, on the other hand, are hardly worth mentioning. When adult, Melolontha feeds on leaves of plants in the garden. It can hit trees, bushes, but also flowers or vegetable plants. As a rule, the plants cope with the leaf damage quite well. Since the cockchafer hatches out of the ground in May and, due to its adult lifespan of four to six weeks, has its main flight time in May and June, new leaves usually form around St. John’s Day on June 21, which are then no longer attacked. The situation is different in the case of a mass infestation:

  • can eat all trees and shrubs bare
  • vegetables and flowers can also be affected
  • Plants only recover next year
  • therefore always combat mass infestation
  • Damage from the larvae is worse

living conditions

Cockchafers feel particularly at home in the vicinity of orchards and deciduous forests. But a garden that has several trees can also be attractive to Melolontha. Moist and loamy soil and a warm spring are the ideal conditions for the cockchafer to pupate in the ground and hatch as beetles. Therefore, if an infestation is to be contained, these good conditions for the beetles should be changed. Unfortunately, drought does not benefit the plants in the garden either. Living conditions can be aggravated as follows:

  • Mix sand under loamy soil when planting new soil
  • refrain from increased watering in spring
  • possibly only water the plants selectively
  • so the larvae can be dried out
  • settle predators
  • cover plants in adult beetles


May beetles spend most of their lives underground as larvae. Only after about three to four years do the grubs pupate into beetles and emerge from the earth. The larvae are very damaging, especially when there are a lot of them. Because they feed on the roots of the plants over the many years, which can die over time. Yellow, limp leaves and withered branches and twigs can be an indication of a grub infestation in the soil. In the worst case, the entire garden soil is affected. The larvae can be recognized as follows:

  • Dig up the soil around the affected plant
  • Grubs are thick brown/white maggots
  • six legs in front
  • mostly slightly curved body
  • dark head
  • hatch from eggs
  • about 60 in a clutch
  • 15 to 20 centimeters deep in the ground
  • a female lays two clutches
  • Hibernation in frost-free depths

June breaker

The June beetle is often not recognized as an independent beetle because it resembles the May beetle. But Amphimallon solstitiale is nocturnal and the main flight time extends from June to autumn. The June beetle can cause even more damage as an adult beetle, because damage only really becomes visible after a few nights. Above all, the June beetle also feeds on blades of grass, so a lawn can look plucked after a few nights. In the local latitudes, the beetle is also known as the summer beetle or the ribbed fallow beetle. The insects are native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. In contrast to the May beetle, which seeks proximity to trees, the June beetle is more likely to be found in wide parks with lots of lawns.


Spotting a June beetle is not that easy, because they are mainly active in the dark. Since the differences to the cockchafer are quite small, they are often not recognized as a separate species. However, Amphimallon solstitiale has the following different appearance:

  • between 14 and 18 millimeters in size
  • yellow-brown, ribbed elytra
  • dense hair on the neck
  • also hair under the wings
  • Front legs have teeth
  • three in the female and two in the male
  • black-brown head
  • long feelers

claims volume

Although Amphimallon solstitiale also eats the leaves on trees and shrubs, the beetles prefer the tender grass blades of a lawn. The damage is only quite high in one meadow, especially if the June beetle infestation is also very high. However, the grubs also cause the greater damage here , as is the case with the cockchafer. Thus, the adult beetle feeds on the following materials:

  • flowers and leaves of trees
  • also from shrubs
  • are targeted
  • grasses
Note: If you see various dried-up spots on your lawn, these may be the nests of June beetle grubs. Over time, the entire lawn can die off. You can pull off the yellow spots in the lawn by hand as they are rootless.

living conditions

June beetles need fresh, sandy soil that is only slightly moist to lay their eggs. Therefore, especially dry summers are very good living conditions for the beetles. So that eggs are not laid in the first place, it is recommended to break through these living conditions. The lawn area can be strengthened as follows:

  • Always take good care of the lawn
  • the denser the lawn, the worse for egg laying
  • Do not mow the lawn too deep
  • mow and fertilize regularly
  • ventilate regularly
  • this will bring the grubs to the surface
  • die here
  • Cover a large area of ​​the lawn every night during the main flight season
  • Amphimallon solstitiale cannot find a way to lay eggs
Tip: Nematodes can be used against both types of larvae, those of Melolontha as well as the June beetle, in the event of a heavy infestation. These threadworms penetrate the grubs and suck them out from the inside. If there are no more larvae, then the roundworms die off as well.


The larvae look a little different than the cockchafer grubs, but are just as harmful because they also feed on the roots of the plants. However, the June beetle prefers sandy soil to lay its eggs, including a lawn. June beetles lay 40 fewer eggs than May beetles. After about three weeks, the grubs hatch, which still have the following special features:

  • thick white larvae
  • with a dark head
  • six legs at the front
  • live in the soil for between two and three years
  • at warmer temperatures larvae develop faster
  • like to feed on grass roots
  • but also from other roots
Tip: The differences between the larvae of the two beetles lie in their colour, because the May beetle larvae are somewhat darker and more colorful than the white June beetle larvae. Since both are equally voracious, this makes no difference when fighting.

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