Rose chafer (Cetonia aurata)

Rose chafer
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Rose chafer fact file

Rose chafer description

GenusCetonia (1)

This beautiful iridescent beetle can occur in a variety of colours; the wingcases or elytra are typically bright green, but they may be darker, variegated or golden. The white marks on the elytra are also highly variable between individuals (2). There is always a V-shaped groove on the back where the upper parts of the elytra meet, and the underside is a coppery colour (3). The rose chafer belongs to the same family as dung beetles, Scarabidae. Chafer is a Middle English word thought to mean ‘to gnaw’ and relates to the feeding habits of these beetles (4).

Length: 14 - 20 mm (2)

Rose chafer biology

The adult beetles are active between April and September; they fly clumsily (2) and are typically seen in sunny weather. They feed on leaves, fruits, flowers and buds of a range of plants including roses, (hence the common name), and are often perceived as garden pests for this reason (3).

The larvae feed on plant roots, and spend the winter hibernating in the soil or inside rotting wood, emerging the following year to pupate. After they emerge as adults they feed for a few weeks, mate and then die (3).


Rose chafer range

This common species is found throughout much of southern and central Europe (3), but becomes more scarce further north (2).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.

Rose chafer habitat

The adults of this species are commonly found in gardens, sitting in flowers. The larvae live inside rotting wood and humus (2).


Rose chafer status

Not threatened in Britain (2).


Rose chafer threats

This species is not currently threatened in Britain.


Rose chafer conservation

Conservation action is not required for this species.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.


This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:


In beetles and earwigs, the hard fore wings. They are held aloft when the insect flies, and are often coloured or patterned.
A winter survival strategy characteristic of some mammals in which an animal’s metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. Whilst hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer. In insects, the correct term for hibernation is ‘diapause’, a temporary pause in development and growth. Any stage of the lifecycle (eggs, larvae, pupae or adults) may enter diapause, which is typically associated with winter.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
The process of forming a pupa, the stage in an insect’s development, when huge changes occur that reorganise the larval form into the adult form. In butterflies the pupa is also called a chrysalis.


  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September, 2003)
  2. Harde, K.W. (2000) A field guide in colour to beetles. Silverdale Books, Leicester.
  3. Brickfields Country Park (October, 2003)
  4. Buczaki, S. (2002) Fauna Britannica. Hamlyn, London.

Image credit

Rose chafer  
Rose chafer

© Roger Key

Dr Roger Key
Tel: +44 (0) 1845 567 292


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