Who ate all the Prionus?

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday 28 July 2010 20:04

This is part two of yesterday's blog. Whilst servicing a subterranean trap late yesterday afternoon at Petworth Park we found all these parts of a number of the notable a Tanner Beetle Prionus coriarius. This huge deadwood longhorn develops in the bases of dead and decaying trees and is quite a beast. Mark suggested that this was most likely Hedgehogs. Based on the fragments there was a minimum of six individuals. That huge left-hand elytron was 28 mm long and does not match with any of the right-handed ones and must have been a massive female. 
Before this however, we saw some really nice living-deadwood inverts, considerably  more active than the Tanner Beetles! We spent the first hour in the car park. First off we saw a couple of deadwood hoverflies hanging around a log pile and Mark managed to confirm Xylota sylavrum. I had never seen this species before which has really smart golden-hairy tip to the abdomen. It's not scarce but it has got me thinking something about deadwood inverts. Why are so many of them Batesian mimics? In other words, why do so many deadwood inverts have red and yellow patterning to make them look like harmful aculeates?

Anyway, this beast was soon eclipsed by some tantalising glimpses of what I was sure was the Golden-haired Longhorn Beetle or Hornet Beetle Leptura aurulenta. They were just too fast and were disappearing out of site but after a quick lunch this huge female pretty much flew into my net. I saw these last year in the glades at Ebernoe when they were much more sedate. Watching the female walk was great, very jerky, quite like a Wasp Beetle adding to the aculeate disguise. It's got golden-hairs all around the pronotum that are really easy to see in this photo. I didn't realise that the females abdomen is almost entirely blood red too, pretty impressive in flight. This species is Na and is a real contender for the smartest of all the longhorn beetles.
Finally, on to a huge open-grown oak tree with a large exposed interior and there were signs of Deathwatch Beetle everywhere as well as these exit holes of the Na Oak Jewel Beetle Agrilus biguttatus. They are neat little D shaped holes coming out of thick oak bark. Also in this tree, tucked away out of view was this nationally scarce (Nb) saproxylic micro moth Esperia oliviella

An awesome day of natural history in the west Weald!

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