The Noble Chafer - Records Wanted

By Julian Jones, Sites and Species Officer at Worcestershire Wildlife Trust

The Noble Chafer Gnorimus nobilis is a nationally scarce species of beetle which 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 caused out a number of surveys.

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

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

(Avid readers of Worcestershire Wildlife News No 87 April 2000 may have noticed that the picture on page 5 captioned Noble Chafer is in fact a nice picture of Rose Chafer (apologies!). To see how the printer achieved this please look at the enclosed postcard!).

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