Beetle (Chafer) (Manuka) Pyronota festiva
Scientific name: Pyronota festiva
Common name: Manuka Beetle, The Maori called it kerewai, kekerewai or reporepowai from its habit of getting stuck in muddy stream banks (repo = mud, wai = water).
Pyronota festiva is a small native beetle about 10mm long that is a member of the Scarab family. There are several colour variants. There are two species of Pyronota in New Zealand, Pyronota festiva is the more common and it has a brown stripe down the back. P. setosa is the other and it has has a distinctive gold stripe on its back, it is less common.
The Pyronota festiva is very common and is found in large numbers throughout New Zealand. It lives in grass and vegetation habitats. It also lives in and around the soil of Manuka trees (Leptospermum). The adult beetles have been seen swarming on Manuka flowers during the summer hence they are one of the plants pollinators.
Pyronota festiva is now so common that it has now become a ‘pasture pest’ to agricultural grasslands. It eats grassroots and kills patches of pasture in some areas especially on South Island West Coast dairy farms when conditions are right. Heavily affected areas are on the drier sandy soils below the ridge lines on undulating pastures.
Pyronota festiva can fly relatively long distances and actively seek new areas of pasture to colonise. The female Pyronota festiva lays most of her eggs in January and February, and the larvae damage is in autumn and winter is when they are feeding. Infestations can be heavy and up to 300 larvae per square metre in some locations.
The larvae generally begin feeding in mid-April with pasture damage occurring in the following months.
The underside of Pyronota festiva