Khrushch is familiar to many not only as a large insect, which is very interesting to watch, but also as a malicious pest of gardens and orchards. The beetle got its name due to the fact that the most active phase of its activity falls on the month of May. Despite its mediocrity, it is quite interesting for its habits and lifestyle.

Origin of species and description

Photo: Khrushch

Photo: Khrushch

Khrushch is quite large — in length grows 18-38 mm. The body of the beetle is wide, elongated-oval and convex, black or red-brown. The body of the beetle consists of a head, chest, abdomen and is covered with a strong chitinous shell. In turn, the beetle's chest is divided into three segments, and the abdomen – into eight.

The translucent membranous wings are protected by hard elytra, which can vary in color from yellow-brown to reddish or brownish. The head of the beetle is small, rather wide than long, very flattened, darker in color compared to the elytra.

Video: Beetroot

The whole body of the beetle is covered with hairs, different in length, color and density. The vegetation can be so dense that it is difficult to see the main color of the beetle under it. The longest and toughest hairs are collected in narrow longitudinal stripes on the head of the beetle. On the elytra, one can easily notice single long hairs, and on the chest – short, but denser vegetation.

On the sides of the abdomen of the beetle there are tiny holes – spiracles. It is through them that air enters the respiratory tubes of the beetle and spreads throughout its body.

An interesting fact: The most mysterious and amazing property of the beetles is their ability to fly, although according to the laws of aerodynamics they fly (like bumblebees) shouldn't at all.

Appearance and Features

Photo: What a Khrushchev looks like

Photo: What a Khrushchev looks like

The beetle has three pairs of jointed, very hairy limbs. The first pair of legs of the beetle originates from the anterior thorax, the second pair from the mesothorax, and the third pair from the metathorax. Three rather sharp teeth are clearly visible on the lower legs of the forelimbs.

The eyes of the Khrushchev are complex, convex in shape, allowing you to look at the world around you from a wide angle. The antennae of the beetle consist of a dozen segments (nine short and one long) and are necessary for him to smell. The flagella of the antennae are somewhat reminiscent of a fan, and in males the size of «fan» much more impressive than the females. Actually, males differ from females in a larger fan and body size.

The mouth apparatus of May beetles is of a gnawing type, which allows it to feast on young leaves and shoots without much difficulty.

At the edges of the mouth oral appendages are located (three pairs):

  • the first pair is the stings;
  • the second pair is the lower jaw;
  • the third pair is the lower lip.

The upper lip looks like a small but rather wide plate covering all this richness from above. While eating, the beetle fully engages both the upper and lower jaws, and the palps help move the food deeper into the mouth. they are two different species.

Where does the carp live?

Photo: Khrushch in Russia

Photo: Khrushch in Russia

The habitat of the Khrushch is located mainly in the Northern Hemisphere – Europe, Asia, North America (temperate zone, tropics). Their population is least numerous on some islands of Oceania, in Africa, South America, where beetles can be seen only in the northern part of the mainland. In the colder regions of the temperate zone, there are very few beetles, and not a single species lives in the taiga zone.

As for the habitat, the beetles chose a wooded area with loose sandy and semi-sandy soil. At the same time, they completely avoid clay soils, since it is rather problematic for females to dig tunnels in order to lay eggs.

Today, entomologists distinguish 63 species of May beetles, here are descriptions of the most interesting of them:

  • Eastern May Khrushchev (wild chestnut Khrushchev). In this species, sexual dimorphism is most pronounced: females are much smaller in size than males (males – up to 29 mm, females – up to 15 mm). The coloration of this species is dominated by reddish and brownish shades. The beetle also has black antennae. The most common eastern beetle is in Europe and Asia.
  • Caucasian beetle is a rather rare species of beetle that lives, oddly enough, in Germany and Austria (western part). The difference from other species lies in the shorter and more rounded pygidia, as well as the presence of scales on the elytra instead of hairs.
  • the western Khrushchev is slightly longer than its eastern counterpart and has a more convex body. Another difference is habits. So, for example, he loves a warmer climate, lives in the fields, and not in forests and gardens, and also appears 10-12 days later in the spring, when it gets warmer thoroughly. His antennae are light brown instead of black. It lives mainly in the south of Ukraine (Kherson and Odessa regions, the lower reaches of the Dniester River).

Now you know where the Khrushchev lives. Let's see what this beetle eats.

What does the beetle eat?

Photo: Khrushchev beetle

Photo: Khrushchev beetle

The main food of an adult individual of the May beetle is young leaves of trees, their shoots, and the pulp of flower buds. A particular preference for the cartilage is revealed to the leaves of fruit trees and shrubs (plum, pear, cherry, sweet cherry, apple tree, apricot, raspberry, gooseberry). 10-20 cm, several times more voracious than adults. They eat the roots of young plants in large quantities, which cause considerable harm to agricultural and horticultural crops. After all, plants with roots eaten by larvae in most cases either develop poorly or die altogether.

It is worth noting that in the first year of life, the larvae of the grubs are practically harmless, since they feed only on humus and plant debris. The peak of their activity, and, of course, gluttony falls on the 2nd and 3rd years of life.

May beetle larvae eat the roots of all vegetable and berry crops, as well as their flowers. A particularly desirable delicacy for them are young potato tubers and strawberry roots. Thus, they can significantly damage entire potato fields and large berry plantations.

Interesting fact: Several three-year-old beetle larvae can easily eat the roots of a two-year-old fruit tree, and one larva can gnaw off the roots of 1-2 strawberry bushes during this time.

Features of character and lifestyle

Photo: Western Khrushchev

Photo: Western Khrushchev

In the spring, in late April or early May, when all the trees are covered with young foliage, males crawl out of the ground en masse. A week later, females join them, so as not to put off for later a good refreshment with fresh juicy greens and start mating, and then other concerns for the future generation.

The dimensions of the May beetle during its short life (4-7 weeks) change and can reach 38 mm. The shape of the body of the Khrushchev is oval, and the weight is up to 10 g. The color of all parts of their body depends on the species and habitat. So, beetles with a darker color live in dense forests, and with a lighter — in the undergrowth, on the edges and in the fields.

Despite the rather large dimensions, the beetles are very virtuoso in flight and are able to easily cover distances up to 20 km, at a speed of about 30 m in 1 minute. During the flight, they tend to hum a lot.

Khrushchev tend to be most active in the evening, when the sun has already set, but it has not yet completely darkened. Some individuals can fly all night, until the very dawn, now and then bumping into artificial light sources. During the day, especially after a hearty meal, the beetles become lethargic and doze until dark. As the evening comes, everything repeats.

Interesting fact: There are legends about the purposefulness of May beetles. After all, if the beetle has set some goal for itself, then it will strive for it in spite of everything.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: May Khrushch

Photo: May Khrushch

The developmental cycle with several transformations is characteristic of the beetles, which includes the following stages:

  • egg (duration 1-1.5 months);
  • pupa (duration 1-2 months);
  • larva (duration 3-4 years);
  • adult — imago (duration 1-2 months).

The mating season for Maybugs usually occurs at the end of May. After mating with the male, the female burrows into the ground and lays eggs (20-30 eggs), and this sequence of actions can be repeated several times during the season. That is, during her short life, one female can mate with several males and make 3-4 clutches, or even more.

The eggs of the beetle are usually white matte in color, 1.5-2.5 mm in diameter. Under favorable conditions, after a month and a half, larvae with a curved thick body, a large head and six short undeveloped limbs hatch from them and spread in different directions. For 3-4 years, the larvae live, grow, feed in the ground at a depth of 10-20 cm. For the period of winter cold, they burrow a little deeper – up to 1-1.5 m.

In the first year of life, the larvae feed on humus, humus and the roots of small herbs. In the second year of life, they begin to change their diet and gradually move on to the roots of larger plants. In search of food, beetle larvae can even briefly crawl out of the ground to the surface, covering a distance of 30-50 cm.

After the third or fourth wintering, in September or October, the larva of the May beetle burrows deeper into the ground and pupates, that is, turns into a chrysalis. The pupal phase usually lasts 30-45 days, and at the end of this time, a fully formed adult beetle emerges from the pupa. The beetle spends all autumn and winter underground in the shell of the pupa, and in late April or early May crawls out to the surface. At the same time, male beetles are selected earlier, and females a little later.

Natural enemies of beetles

Photo: What a Khrushchev looks like

Photo: What a Khrushchev looks like

It is no secret that beetles and their larvae are dangerous pests of forests, gardens, fields and orchards. Adult beetles (imagoes) in their short life eat just a huge amount of young leaves and flower buds of fruit trees, which ultimately affects their productivity. Larvae are even more dangerous than adults, because they live much longer — 4-5 years, and during this time, feeding exclusively on the roots of grasses and young trees, they bring considerable harm to both forestry and agriculture.

However, justice exists in nature and it is such that turn also serve as food for many birds and animals. So, adult beetles are not averse to eating small mammals: hedgehogs, badgers, moles, rats, flying mice and large birds: starlings, crows, magpies, hoopoes, rooks and even owls.

Beetle larvae, rich in protein and liquid, are a favorite food for smaller forest birds. This natural factor helps both to control the number of beetles and to feed the birds with their numerous offspring.

Another natural enemy of the Maybug larvae is the well-known ground beetle. Many consider them pests, but they eat beetle larvae (mainly the first year of life), thereby providing an invaluable service to all gardeners and gardeners.

Population and species status

Photo: Khrushch

Photo: Khrushch

To date, the number of Khrushchev in its habitat in Europe, Asia, North America is not too large and, with slight fluctuations in one direction or another, is constantly kept within the natural norm. This result was achieved not least thanks to the use of pesticides. As for the beetles living on some islands of Oceania, there is no data on this matter.

It is worth noting that more than half a century ago, the situation with Khrushchev in Europe and Asia was completely different. In some years of the middle of the 20th century, the number of beetles was simply catastrophic. Khrushchev flew in large flocks, rapidly multiplied, which caused irreparable damage to farmers and gardeners, depriving them of most of the crop and, as a result, their livelihood. It also happened that the beetles literally «mowed» entire gardens and fields, leaving behind bare branches without leaves and bark, as well as completely black and bare patches of land without vegetation.

Before the era of pesticides, the only way to combat these pests was to shake the trees early in the morning, after which beetles were manually collected and destroyed. Such a primitive way of dealing with beetles was very time-consuming and ineffective, since some of the pests still managed to avoid execution.

Many people, if they had not seen the beetle, must have heard it. After all, with the onset of spring and warmth, whole clouds of May beetles fly in the evenings with a loud buzz over flowering gardens. Remember, the poet Taras Shevchenko has a verse on this subject: » A garden of cherry blossoms in a hut, bugs buzz over the cherries…»?

The time of bugs or May beetles is April and May. It was during this period that the Khrushchev intensively feeds, eating foliage and flowers, and also actively reproduces, which sometimes does not benefit fields, forests, orchards and orchards.

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