Everything’s coming up roses

Author Michael Blencowe

Here in Lewes we have a lot to be proud of. Two Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserves, a brewery and a history of avalanches, battles, earthquakes, flooding and explosive bonfire celebrations. It’s amazing that we’re still on the map.

rose chafer / Mark Greco

rose chafer / Mark Greco

But one map we are still firmly found on is the distribution map of one of Britain’s most impressive beetles. Lewes is a real hot-spot for the rose chafer. It really loves it here!

The rose chafer is one seriously glamorous insect. Each one looks like it’s been designed, carefully crafted, coated in the most dazzling metallic green and hand polished. How can I put it? – the rose chafer looks expensive.

Their resemblance to Egyptian scarabs brings the romance of The Nile to any compost heap – great places for their C-shaped larvae to develop.

They’re powerful flyers too. Like miniature Transformers they can suddenly extend their smoky wings from underneath their metallic elytra (wing cases) and, with a buzz, take to the air. Admittedly they do tend to crash into fences quite a bit. I said they were beautiful, I didn’t say they were graceful.

Lewes folk are very proud that their town is the best place in the county to find this stunning insect. The only other area which claims to be a rose chafer hotspot is Arundel. This summer I’m going to be conducting a county-wide survey and finally proving conclusively that Lewes is the official rose chafer capital of Sussex. I’ve been asking people to send in their sightings of this beetle.

rose chafer / Ian Seccombe

rose chafer / Ian Seccombe

Since starting the survey I have received 57 sightings from Lewes, one sighting from Brighton and one sighting from Seaford. So, a strong early lead from Lewes there.

Admittedly, so far I have only told people in Lewes about my survey and this may have skewed the data in our favour somewhat (I’m still trying to work out how those Brighton and Seaford records snuck in) but I’m now opening up the competition to everyone else in Sussex.

If you’d like to try and steal the Lewes chafer crown then look in your compost heaps and flower-beds and around your villages, towns and countryside for this shiny green beetle. If you see one, please email me with details of when and where you saw it so I can report the sighting to the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre and put you on the map. If you can get a photo of the beetle then send that in too and I’ll add it to the Lewes Wildlife facebook page chafer gallery

Happy hunting – and may Lewes, erm I mean, the best town, win!

rose chafer / John Hinitt

rose chafer / John Hinitt

rose chafer / Richard Mongar

rose chafer / Richard Mongar

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Everything’s coming up roses — 3 Comments

  1. These have been found in a garden just past the highlands pub at the top of uckfield. My friend (who doesnt have the internet) brought me a dead one down (it was dead when he found it). he says he has seen three more since. I still have the insect somewhere and was delighted to see it. such a pretty little thing.

  2. Just let you know I found a live, but possibly stunned, rose chafer on the pavement outside Seaford Day hospital (BN25 1SS) a few weeks ago. I picked it up on a leaf and moved it on to the grass, but I don’t think it was going to make it, having most likely being caught by a vehicle on the main road. I didn’t have my camera with me, but the colouring and patterning looked very much like the picture used for the ’taxonomy’ section on this page of the natural history museum 


    I work in Lewes and over the years have been lucky enough to have seen a few rose chafers on my lunchtime walks, mainly at the back of County Hall (Rotten Row and Grange Road areas). Always chaffed to see them :-)

  3. Since i sent my email to Michael telling him about the rose chafer i saw in my garden in Avondale rd Seaford, i had 3 at once in my garden. I have seen them in a garden in Sutton Drove, also 1 at the allotment. All in Seaford.

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