The Noble Chafer

By Harry Green

What follows is based on an article written in Worcestershire Record No 8 page 11. Kevin McGee has also reported noble chafer from Drakes Broughton - see Worcestershire Record No 9 page 25.

The Noble Chafer Gnorimus nobilis is a nationally scarce species of beetle listed as Red Data Book 2. It was first recorded in Worcestershire in 1985 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. It is also known to occur in the Wyre Forest where Paul Whitehead has carried out a number of surveys. Since then 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.

Figure 1. Rose chafer Cetonia aurata LEFT, Noble Chafer Gnorimus nobilis RIGHT

The beetle may well occur elsewhere 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. Phone Steve Bloomfield at Worcestershire Wildlife Trust office 01905 754919

The adult beetle feeds on nectar from open flowers. Umbellifers such as Hogweed are visited on sunny days in July and August. Its larvae live in decaying ancient fruit trees in orchards and also have been recorded in oak and willow. 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.

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.

Enclosed in this edition of Worcestershire Record there should be a postcard to remind you to look out for them this summer.

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