Suddenly it was crawling on the ground: The first may beetle of the year showed up in Hanover’s southern part, and that was already in mid-February. Lawyer Kay Scholtes discovered the animal while working in his vegetable garden near the Engesohde cemetery.
It is true that there are always early cockchafers found before May begins, i.e. in April or, exceptionally, in March. “But in mid-February this is actually an unusual phenomenon,” says Tonja Mannstedt from the Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND). It is further evidence of how early nature is this year. “There just wasn’t a real winter,” says Mannstedt.
“Heat will have activated the bug initially”
The grubs, also the cockchafer larvae, hatch at a depth of about 35 centimetres. There they live for three to five years and nibble on plant remains and later roots before they pupate and become beetles again. They then come out of the ground at soil temperatures of around ten to twelve degrees.
Normally, these values are only reached when the first rays of the spring sun warm the soil. Last weekend, however, there were several clear hours of sunshine. In addition, the Engesohde, where hobby gardener Scholtes has the vegetable patch, has sandy soils – they absorb the temperature faster. “The heat will have initially activated the beetle,” says Mannstedt.
The plant world is also more developed than usual at this time. “Buds are already forming everywhere on the early bloomers,” says the BUND expert. “However, if an icy onset of winter comes, then a lot of it will freeze to death.” People think that’s regrettable – but it can’t be changed. “It’s nature.”
By Conrad von Meding