The rose-chafer


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The rose-chafer
Physical Description:
Chittenden, F. H ( Frank Hurlbut ), 1858-1929
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Bureau of Entomology ( Washington, D.C )
Publication Date:

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aleph - 29681338
oclc - 83425005
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Full Text

CIRCULAR NO. 11. AciV aO Iu,.'r.l .lui ,.bo
United States Departnment of Aigriciilture,
g niumnilogit amnd Chiel ul Bure ~ )

Sfr K OSE-/BAFEH. ltbris .
.lfl nl i ll/i, e .N1IllI.1lJ itu's F'lu 1. l \
In charge e of l'rs-t ('rup uiiI .%'Yr'r Ic',d'vrt Inserct */rIIfTf c.
I1KS HlAI. AP'KAIAN 'K: AND .I1'FT I (ll 1- WO ItIK.
At about the time of the blossoming if the grapevine and I he garden
rose a long-legged bertir of a lighl yellowisli-lrown colur. called ltie rose-

Fn. I -Rtose-chafer IlIacr, ariul(/a aur; in.s,,1i) a. Irtmalt Ieetl.- b anterior Iart ol
male: e. pylidium ol malte d. aIt,1ln.nnIR of Mnail r. larvTa / pupi[ All enlarged,
(From Rileyv )
chafer or "rose-bug," makes its appearance in certain sections of the
country, and strips the vines and bushes of blossoms and foliage. This
beetle is about one-third of an inch in length and may Ibu recognized
by comparison with the accompanying illustration (fig. 1, a).
These insects appear suddenly and in vast swarms, in certain years.
usually toward the middle of June in the northern States and about
two weeks earlier in their southern range, and overrun vineyard and
orchard, nursery andti garden. In about a month or six weeks from the
time of their first arrival, generally after they have done a vast amount
of damage, the beetles disappear as suddenly as. they came.
The rose-chafer occurs in the North, from Canada and Maine south-
ward to Virginia and Tennessee, and westward to Oklahoma and


Colorado, being practically restricted to the Upper Austral life zone, ex-
cept in a few localities, notably in New England, where it has invaded
the Transition zone. It is particularly injurious in the States of Massa-
chusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Ohio, and has been reported as
very destructive in portions of New York, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois,
Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, southern Michigan, and Vermont. Light,
sandy regions are greatly preferred by the insects as breeding grounds,
and clay lands, unless near sandy soil, are seldom troubled with them.
According to Harris, the rose-chafer, for some time after it was first
noticed, confined its ravages to the blossoms of the rose. There is a
record, however, of its having been destructive to grapes as early as
1810. In later years it has extended its range of food plants, until now
it is nearly omnivorous. The grapevine and the rose especially suffer
from its depredations, but it is almost equally destructive to the apple,
pear, cherry, peach, plum, and other fruit, shade, and forest trees. In
times of great abundance these insects completely destroy flowers and
other ornamental plants of many sorts, even attacking corn, wheat, and
grasses, berries, peas, beans, and nearly all garden fruits and vegetables.
Almost anything green is relished.
The beetles do not confine their ravages to any particular portion of
a plant, but consume blossoms, leaves, fruit, and all alike. In their
attacks upon the grape they first devour the blossoms, then the leaves,
which they completely strip, leaving only a thin network, and later the
young berries are eaten. Whole vineyards and orchards are often
devastated, and the fruit crop of large sections of country destroyed.
It is no uncommon sight to see every young apple on a tree completely
covered and obscured from view by a sprawling, struggling mass of
Since the late eighties the rose-chafer has been particularly injurious
in the grape-growing region of southern New Jersey, and has been the
subject of extensive research and experiment by Dr. J. B. Smith, ento-
mologist of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, who has
added much to our knowledge of the pest.
The rose-chafer, as already stated, appears early in June, the date
varying somewhat according to locality and season, and mates and
begins feeding soon after emerging from the ground. For from four to
six weeks after their appearance the beetles continue feeding, almost
constantly paired. The female deposits her eggs singly, from twenty-
four to thirty-six in number, a few inches beneath the surface of the
earth, and in about two or three weeks' time they hatch and the young
larvae or grubs begin feeding on such tender rootlets, preferably of grass.
as are in reach. In autumn they have reached maturity and present
the appearance shown in the illustration at f. They are yellowish white

in color, with ;L pale browii head. Li:te in autumn tlhey ,irselid lower
into the earth, beyond th. rva-h if froist. eah grub forming a little
earthen cell in which it passts the \iiter, and isr.iinding in the ;iarly
spring. Later in tihe- spring. iM April or early May, tiv transform to
pupa', and in frnm twoi to four w,.vk4 aft('rwards the beetles emerge, dig
their way out of the ground,. an'l riii-w their destructive work. A sin-
gle generation of the sliti.s its pritl iird in a year, and about thri,:
weeks is the uverange durationti i of fir. f'i lr an inli iiu:ial insect.
I i. % i-: I I I" .
The rose-chafer is inr of our niii-t lliv-iuIlt insect enemies to combat
successfully. Almost every ic htlm.l that has ever been eiiiployvel
against other insects has Ibetn trieil ai.;iiiin,-t the rose-chafer, and uciiili
has been written on thi.i h11.l, hilt a th,,wrotgilly .,ucct'-sful remedy is
yet to be discovered for tht inseci wlhirn they .ijppe ir in excessive num-
bers. Every year or two some wiiri'iilturail writer comes to the front
with a new and successful rened'ly. but when tested on a large scale, in
a badly infested vineyard or or'hird I. these reit",li.s are not found
The difficulty is that any applic'itii0n that i,.iy be made is unsuccess-
ful unless applied almost k-. tinu.illy. Tlie arsenicals %ill kill the
beetle, but are of little value whn thle insects are abundant, because
of theslow action of th. pnin,'i. 'l'hei blossoms are entirely dh..ttrr>,,d
before it takes effect, and tih, deal are constantly liili recruited liyV
others that come from the ground ir fly fn,'iii neighli -,riin',L places. Ev.ry
beetle on a plant niight be destroyed one d.iy, but on the lday follning
the plant would he completely covct-d again. It is diti'tnult to spray
an entire garden or vineyardi so) thda every bud and blossom will be
coated with the poison. It is pm .-.ihle that a hea'v pipplic:ntiiii 1f
arsenate of lead, say 5 to) (; pounilns to .'i g;i.tllons of water or Bordeaux
mixture, will largely protect tile vines, and this :-houll be tested
by vineyardists confronted with this pest. Very thiorougli ;1ppiC.Ltianis
should be made upon tirst si'nns of the insects and repeated as necessary.
The various compounds of copper, lime, kerosene, aind pyrethiruin,
hot water, and other vaunted "sure" remedies have failed to come up
to expectations when subjected to a rigid test. Somie stul.stant '-,
pyrethrum for example, stupefy the insects for a short tiie.. but in a
few minutes they recover anid are soon feeding again. Hot water is
not effective because of the impo,.sibility of applying it in a spr:iv or
jet at a sufficiently high temperature tI kill the insects.
Decoctions of tobacco and quassia, hellebore, alinn. kainit, and a
number of proprietary remedies that have been tried have no appar'rnt
effect on the rose-chafer.
The old-fashioned remedy of hand-picking is of service when the
beetles infest rosebushes or other low-growing plants. Thly may also

4 1111iiiiii I VIII I II H 1111M1111111 lnllll1
3 1262 09216 4705
be jarred from trees and bushes onto sheets saturated with
but these methods are tedious and must be practiced daily in
morning or toward sundown to be effective. A number of ualt....
mechanical appliances formed on the plan of a funnel or inv
umbrella, with i bag or can containing kerosene at the bottom, hw
been devised for the collection of the beetles as they are jarred fiiia
the plants ....
Choice plants may be securely protected by a covering of nettingf,
and when the process of bagging the grapes may profitably be employed,.l
this method should be followed. Bagging, as is well known, is a ps..'.
ventive of rot, and in addition, grapes so protected produce fruit eaftl
superior appearance and quality.
Small orchards, gardens, or vineyards may be protected, at le sm
from the first arriving hordes of the chafers, by planting about th_ I*l
early-flowering plants that particularly attract the beetles. Spi8.asm .
deutzias. andromeda, magnolias, blackberries, and white rosesare:t
especially useful as counter attractive. The beetles swarm on the i
flowers of these plants in preference to many varieties of grape ad
other fruits, and when thus massed in great numbers, their destruction
by the use of collectors or other mechanical means is greatly facilitated.&:,ii
In addition to the use of any of the methods described above, injuy..
to vineyards may be appreciably lessened by preventing the breeding -io
the insects upon or in the immediate vicinity of the vineyard. All
ground which might serve as a breeding place and which it is possible ..:
so to treat, should be plowed and harrowed early in May or saturated .[
with a 10 per cent kerosene-soap emulsion for the destruction of the
larvae and pupae. The least possible amount of light sandy soil should",
be left in sod, only the heaviest land being used for grass. It is well '.,a:
also to stimulate the vines by the use of kainit and other fertilizers. .
Whatever practice of a remedial nature is undertaken, whether eel- ",
lecting or spraying, it should be begun at the first onset of the beetles m i
and continued until their disappearance. Nor should work be confined :i|
entirely to such useful plants as it is desired to preserve. Many weeda ..i
and wild plants, notably the ox-eye daisy and sumac, are special p
favorites of this species, and when practicable, the beetles should be ..
destroyed on them, to prevent their spreading to cultivated land.
If persistent and combined effort on the part of the fruit growers of
a limited region were made against this insect, its numbers might, in
a few seasons, be so diminished as to secure practical immunity from
injury for several years.
Secretary of Agriculture.
WASHINGTON, D. C., May 28, 1909. i