Those rose chafers are making love, not war

Share this:

What are these creepy little tan bugs all over my yard in the last week? They are chewing up flowers and leaves on lots of plants. They appear to be violent because I am finding them piled on top of each other, fighting. What are they?
Ah, you have mistaken the rose chafers’ amorous ways for fisticuffs. They are not fighting; they are…uh…mating.

Rose chafers are native beetles that become more of a problem to gardeners living on sandy soils. Part of the rose chafer’s life cycle is below ground and it is much easier to maneuver in sand than clay.

Every year in late May to early June, the adult rose chafers emerge from grassy areas and fly off for about three to four seeks of feeding voraciously and mating. Their tastes in plants are broad: all types of flower blossoms like roses, poppies and peonies. Their damage on flower petals consists of ragged holes that eventually turn brown around the edges. Rose chafers enjoy small developing fruit and leaves of apples, peaches and strawberries. They are particularly damaging to grapes, eating small fruit, leaves and possibly flowers if they are available. They may damage vegetable garden plants like leaves on corn, beans, peppers and beets.

Rose chafers are tan slender beetles are slightly larger than one-half inch in length. Their thin, spiny legs have a reddish color and the undersides of their bodies are gray-black.

Because of those spiny legs, rose chafers get caught on the clothes, hair or fur of whatever they land on. It isn’t unusual to find one wandering around the house after falling off its transportation indoors.

Control get go several ways. They can be hand-picked and dumped into soapy water or sprayed with a registered insecticide. Since they have a hard shell, insecticidal soap does not kill them.

If rose chafers are feeding in the garden, carbaryl, with a brand name like Sevin may work but read the label. If the fruit of strawberries or raspberries is being sprayed, make sure that the label says you can spray fruit and not just the plant.

But as annoying as rose chafers are, they are just the opening act for Japanese beetles, which should be emerging to chew up the same and more plants at the end of June or early July.

Can I put my houseplants outside on the deck for the summer? They will get lots of sun and it should be like a vacation for them.
Consider this the vacation to Hades. The gates will open and flames will belch out. There is more burning ultraviolet light on the deck than your delicate indoor plants ever got even sitting in a south window.

Leaves produced indoors are called shade leaves. They are bigger, softer and much better at gathering light. When shade leaves hit the deck, they burn rapidly. Leaves could get a reddish color before they turn brown or white. This could put an end to your house pets.

If plants are going outside, it will be necessary to put them under the shade of a tree. Some light will get through but there will be adequate shade. There will more sun under the tree than the plants got indoors. Besides light, there is also the possibility of insects damaging plants. Even though those insects have never seen or tasted this plant, it does not deter them. There will also be a few insects, like ants or sowbugs which will happily climb into the drain holes in the bottom of the pots.

It will be important to remove your hitchhikers before they return to the house in the fall. This involves putting the pots up to their rims in a bucket of water and trying to drown your stowaways. Leave the pot in the water for a couple of hours before removing and letting it drain.

About Gretchen Voyle 51 Articles
Gretchen Voyle is the MSU Extension-Livingston County Horticulture Educator. She can be reached at (517) 546-3950.