22 June 2012

Buzzed By Billy Witches

Scene 90 from ‘The Amateur Gardener’ (AG):

Setting: bright sunny day. AG sitting on bench drinking coffee. Hears loud buzzing noise, similar to old biplane, then plopping noise as insect (as yet unidentified) crash lands into nearby grass. AG smiles indulgently believing the sound comes from a bumbling ladybird.

AG finishes coffee and goes to readjust washing on line. Notices a large round beetle on a towel.
garden chafer

Delighted with potential new subject to blog about AG rushes to get camera and starts taking photographs.

After a few attempts AG steps back to view images on camera. Notices another beetle on grass. Intrigued. Happens to glance over other items of drying clothing. Notices many other beetles.

AG: “Aaaarrgghhh!!”

It’s a truism that one insect is interesting, but a swarm of them is plain scary.

To be strictly accurate this beetle isn’t a Billy Witch (a Suffolk nickname for a cockchafer (snigger)). It’s probably a garden chafer. And not surprisingly it’s bad news. Apparently the grubs eat grass roots, and the adult eats leaves. They are a symptom of ‘poorly maintained lawns’ according to the RHS.

AG nods apologetically.

garden chafer on washing