The rose chafer (Cetonia aurata), of the scarab beetle family, is a glossy green beetle and one of the most colorful of native insects thanks to its lustrous coloration. Also, it doesn’t do much damage.

Identify rose beetles

The common rose chafer has made itself rare for a few decades, but is now appearing more frequently again. It inhabits meadows, gardens and forest edges. A particularly beautiful, green beetle that is easy to recognize by its color alone.

  • between 14 and 20 mm in size
  • has a stocky, thick, plump physique
  • Coloration of its elytra most striking
  • shiny, metallic green, partly also bronze-colored, iridescent
  • intense gold tinge in the luster of its shell (aurata for gold)
  • stable pronotum colored similarly to the rest of the body
  • Underside of body is reddish golden in colour
  • Elytra several white spots and transverse bands in the posterior third
  • Wings fused together, cannot be folded up individually
  • covered with fine hairs on top
  • Underside, on the other hand, is long and densely hairy
  • male animals, shallow longitudinal furrow on the ventral side

Despite the fact that their elytra are fused together, these beetles can fly. Lateral bulges allow the skin and hind wings to spread. Instead of raising their wings, they push the hind wings out from under the elytra. This results in a particularly noticeable and, above all, noisy flight pattern. Its affiliation with the scarab beetles is shown by the leaf-like fanning out at the ends of the tentacles.


There are around 2,600 species of rose chafer worldwide, ten of which are found in Central Europe. In Germany, the shiny green beetle in particular is the most widespread. It can also be found in southern and central Europe. It is rarely found in northern Europe, where its range extends to Sweden, Finland and southern Norway. There are also isolated occurrences in Scandinavia and on the British Isles as well as from Asia Minor to China.


The rose chafer (Cetonia aurata) is active from April/May to September. The adult animals feed mainly on pollen and pollen. Sometimes they also feast on plant sap, which they find on wounds on trees or other plants. However, the animals do not disdain fruit that is spoiled, not harvested or lying on the ground. Occasionally, this beetle lingers for a while on the delicate blossoms of various plants, which it happily nibbles on without causing any major damage. A green beetle that does not cause any significant damage to the plant parts above ground or the roots and also contributes as a humus builder and pollinator in the garden.

Observable from May

From around April/May this beetle populates areas of the landscape where many flowering plants grow. He announces himself with a deep hum and meanwhile buzzes around the plants. It can usually be observed in large numbers in warmer regions. The beetles sit on the blossoms of roses, elderberries, hawthorns, lilacs, dogwoods, spirea, various fruit trees, thistles or umbellifers, especially in the midday hours. They are rather sluggish on cool and cloudy days, while they are particularly active in flight on sunny and warm days. They only live for a few months, although isolated animals can be active into October.

Note: The rose chafer does not actually like roses, with the exception of single-flowered wild roses.

The larvae of the rose chafer

When the compost heap is rearranged, they come to light, the white, walnut-sized and horseshoe-shaped larvae of Cetonia aurata, the so-called grubs. In early summer, the beetles lay their eggs in compost heaps, in manure from cold frames, decaying wood from dead trees or ant nests. The four to five centimeter long grubs feed exclusively on rotted plant material or the mulm of old deciduous trees.

They molt twice and, when they are about four to five centimetres, build a cocoon out of earth, sand and small pieces of wood. They stick all of this together with a kind of secretion that they excrete. Pupation takes place in this cocoon. It usually takes two to three years before pupation finally occurs, depending on the weather and food supply. But not every grub is a descendant of the rose chafer, because they are very similar to those of the May or June chafer.

Note: Feeding damage by rose beetle larvae can usually only occur here in large numbers and the food supply is too low as a result. However, this only happens very rarely.

Distinguishing features between rose and cockchafer larvae

Anything that looks like a grub is usually one. There are hundreds of beetle species whose larvae are grubs. There are both beneficial and pests, with the rose beetle being a beneficial and the May beetle being a pest. If you take a closer look, you can see clear differences, especially in these two species. They show up in shape, size, biting tools, but above all in the way they move. While rose beetle larvae are slimmer in front than behind, those of the May beetle are the same thickness over the entire length of the body. If both lie on a smooth surface, rose beetle larvae move forward like caterpillars in a supine position and May beetle larvae lie sideways and crooked.

A specially protected species

According to the Federal Species Protection Ordinance, the golden luster or common rose beetle (Cetonia aurata) is a particularly protected species. However, it is not on the Red List of endangered animals in Germany. Targeted measures to combat it are prohibited. Both the beetle and its grubs must be tolerated in principle. Compared to pests such as aphids, spider mites, scale insects or the shoot borer, the rose chafer is a rather harmless insect that usually does not cause any significant damage. Rose beetle larvae found when sifting out compost are best placed back there.

Tip: If you find isolated cockchafer grubs, you don’t necessarily have to fight them, because the cockchafer is now only rarely seen in this country.

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