THE NOBLE CHAFER GNORIMUS NOBILIS-
We have made several appeals for records of sightings of this uncommon and interesting beetle as part of a national effort to discover its true status and to take steps for ensuring its conservation. The content of this article is based on the previous articles (see reference list) with some additional information.
The Noble Chafer Gnorimus nobilis is a nationally scarce species of beetle listed as Red Data Book 2. In recent times it has been recorded in Worcestershire in 1985 and 1986 where it was found on Hogweed at Tiddesley Wood near Pershore. It was recorded from the Defford area in the 1980's and Monkwood and Tiddesley Wood again in 1998. Kevin McGee found it at Drakes Broughton in 2000 and evidence of its presence has been seen at another site in SE Worcestershire and two sites in the Teme valley. It is also known to occur in the Wyre Forest where Paul Whitehead has carried out a number of surveys, and there are old reports form Bewdley and Broadheath in the 1940s.
Worcestershire and Gloucestershire breeding sites have been located in old orchards. Following the discovery of these sites methods of recognising the trees favoured by the beetle and for distinguishing the larvae from other species have been devised. The People's Trust for Endangered Species is leading national action related to a Biodiversity Action Plan to conserve this endangered species and is funding further survey work. It now seem likely that the main national distribution lies in and around Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
One important type of breeding site is within the rotting contents of old fruit tree trunks - traces have been found in trees in plum, apple and cherry orchards and the beetle seem to have a particular liking for old plum trees. Eggs are laid therein and the larvae develop in the rotting wood for 2-3 years. After pupation the emergent beetles may mate and remain inside the tree. When the beetles do fly they have been recorded visiting flowers of hogweed, angelica and meadow sweet.
The beetle is basically green and the Rose Chafer Cetonia aurata is superficially similar. The main differences are that the Noble Chafer has longer and thinner legs with the middle and hind legs smooth on the shins, but toothed on the Rose Chafer. There are very small white spots on the thorax of Noble Chafer. The wing cases of the Noble Chafer are much wrinklier and there are differences in the shape of the thorax. The small triangular area between the wing-cases where they join the thorax (the scutellum) is an equilateral triangle in Noble Chafer, but elongated in Rose Chafer. Both beetles vary in colour, from metallic apple green, through blue and emerald green to deep bronze green.
A national focus group co-ordinated by the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species, is working on discovering more about the distribution and ecology of the species. Undoubtedly old mature orchards are important and there could be a link between ancient forests such as Wyre and the Forest of Dean and the orchards adjacent to them.
Any Worcestershire records are invaluable to finding out more
about their ecology and so helping to conserve this attractive
beetle species. Enclosed in this edition of Worcestershire Record
is a postcard to remind you to look out for them this summer.
The beetle may well occur anywhere in Worcestershire and we particularly ask anyone who is near old orchards to keep a lookout and let us know immediately if you think you have seen the species. Also if you have news of old orchards being cleared we should like to know as soon as possible. If larvae are found in the trees is may be possible to rear them for later release. Please phone Steve Bloomfield at Worcestershire Wildlife Trust office 01905 754919 or contact the writer email@example.com
Figure 1. Rose chafer Cetonia aurata LEFT, Noble Chafer Gnorimus nobilis RIGHT
JONES J 2000 Worcestershire Record 8:11
McGEE K 2000 Worcestershire Record 9:25
GREEN GH 2001 Worcestershire Record 11:7
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