I was digging up the edges of borders in my garden this evening and in amongst the turf and the soil I found quite a number of what I assume to be beetle pupae. I found a lot of similarly sized white grubs in similar places late last year, so I figure these are probably the pupal stage of the same thing. Perhaps a chafer beetle of some sort? There seems to be a dearth of beetle pupae pictures on the web, at least that are easily found via Google, so I've struggled to identify these. Maybe they're not all the same? Can you help?

These were up to 20mm long (very approximately – I seldom remember to actually measure these beasties that I find) and the pointy ends were waving about in circles after being disturbed, which was a bit freaky since they otherwise look dormant and inanimate. Next stage should be for them to emerge as adult beetles, but I left them on the decking for the birds so I don't think we'll see that in this case.

Update: thanks to regular correspondent Blackbird for letting us know that they're almost definitely Noctuid moth pupae. This page has an extreme close-up of one of these pupae near the bottom (you'll have to scroll right down) with the parts labelled.

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  1. I think they are Noctuid moth pupae. Common amongst leaf litter and anywhere on the soil.

  2. Wow – I think you’re right – well spotted! The pictures I’ve unearthed searching Google do look like an exact match and I found them a couple of inches down amongst the grass roots which matches the descriptions too. I’ll update the post!

  3. sharron mcshane

    Are these things a garden pest and should they be killed or just left?

  4. I found quite a few pages out there on the web suggesting that Noctuid moths are voracious pests of many agricultural crops. This page suggests they will eat your veg:

  5. Can these things sting? Because the cremaster looks rather wicked!!!

  6. To my knowledge they can’t sting, though I did find a web page asserting that some Asian Noctuid moths can pierce the skin of large mammals to get a blood meal. I had to look up cremaster though:

  7. Great to find this, and the Noctuid identification. I found something very similar in our garden in Oregon and was calling it a beetle pupa. Photo posted at
    I always forget to measure things too but this time I could go back in the house and get my little photo ruler (actually from a forensics supply house) so the size of the pupa is shown.

  8. Goldfinch: actually further investigation shows that many moth pupae look something like that so the ones you’ve found might be a different brand of moth.

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