Today, I found the first Maikäfer of the year. The literal translation of the name would be “may bug”, though apparently the English name is the much less poetic cockchafer, which sounds vaguely like an STD.
Here in Germany, the Maikäfer is an iconic symbol of spring. Maikäfer appear in Wilhelm Busch’s Max and Moritz and in a nursery rhyme going all the way back to the Thirty-Years-War. Chocolate Maikäfer are popular sweets.
However, when I was a child, the chocolate version was the only Maikäfer we’d ever see, because the cockchafer had gone nearly extinct due to pesticides by the 1970s. My parents would tell stories of collecting Maikäfer and playing with them and sometimes even getting paid for collecting Maikäfer, but I only saw maybe one or two of them during my childhood, sad specimen kept in jam jars and handed around at school.
However, with chemical pesticides on their way out, the Maikäfer has made a recovery of sorts. In the past few years, I have been seeing a couple of Maikäfer each year. And today, I found the first Maikäfer of 2011. And I took a photo: