Chonky, cryptic, rare, tufted and saproxylic; can you ask any more of a beetle!?

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday 30 May 2020 20:38

On Friday I beat this amazing little anthribid from a dead oak limb in East Sussex. This is Pseudeuparius sepicola, something I have wanted to see for some time since Peter Hodge mentioned there was an old record from the Mens. This was on a farm in East Sussex, where it is the first record for the county, and the first in Sussex since the 1960s. It's listed as RDB2, Vulnerable. Mark Gurney said it rarely turns up in the same place twice, so it must be really hard to find. I feel really lucky as, although it was a great site for wildlife, it wasn't a particularly good site for saproxylic beetles; this species was NOT on my radar. Here are some more shots of what is a frustratingly mobile beetle to photograph.

The tree was an open-grown oak between two fields at the end of a thin strip of scrubby-woodland. Here is the tree.

And the branches I tapped it from. So really nothing hugely different to almost every decent sized oak tree! Probably my find of the year so far. I was at the time walking along the other side of the fence and had a lot of ground to cover but at the last minute I decided to make a short diversion to beat the oak foliage of this tree. As I was leaving the tree, I noticed the small dead limbs underneath and had a bash. It's amazing how so much of entomology is chance! The previous day, yet another Cantharis rustica tanked overhead and I figured I should check it just in case, I turned and dashed after it. It was only Stenostola dubia! I always think it's worth going that extra mile. If something pops into your head or makes you think about it, ALWAYS go for it. I think there is a great deal of room for creative thinking in entomology, more often than not, this is where the unusual findings are. So it's not just chance. I suppose you make your own luck.

I might as well go through the other anthribids I have seen, as there are only four in all. They are all such smart beasts. Chonky, cryptic, scarce, mostly saproxylic and highly photogenic. What's not to like? Anthribus fasciatus, I have only seen this once, at Knepp in 2015. This is the only one of these four that's not saproxylic.

Platystomos albinus, an annual encounter in Sussex. I have 11 records for this, seen it once already this year.

And Platyrhinus resinosus, still surprisingly rare in Sussex, I have nine records but only one of these is from Sussex. As soon as you go into Surrey or Kent it becomes much commoner.

For the love of longhorns

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday 23 May 2020 09:18

When I first started this blog ten years ago, saproxylic beetles featured really heavily. In fact, the first time I went out looking for a beetle on a hunch was 2009, when I figured I might have a chance of seeing Leptura aurulenta at Ebernoe and I found it! I was hooked. Over the last few years though, spiders kind of took me away. This year though, I've really started getting back into them. Earlier this month, at an undisclosed site in Surrey, I found a new one. I beat the Nationally Rare Grammoptera ustulata from Hawthorn and I could not believe how beautiful it was! Look at those gold hairs!

I have now seen 38 species.

I have not seen, any species of Saperda, Grammoptera abdominalis or Molorchus minor.

I pulled out how many records I have of longhorns, 349 in all. Now this is a bit behind, as I am still to enter most of last year's records and this years but it gives a good indicator. Here they are in reverse order.

Acanthocinus aedilis (Timberman) - Nationally Rare - 1 record
WOW! Look at its antennae!!! I picked this up in the wood yard at Abernethy when Mark Gurney and I were doing bird surveys for the RSPB way back in spring 2007.

Asemum striatum - 1 record
I have only ever picked this up once, way back in 2010 at Iping Common where several were flying around pine trunks. Didn't get a photo.

Glaphyra umbelletarum - Nationally Scarce - 1 record
Another one I have only ever seen once. This time feeding on Hemlock Water-dropwort in Furnace Meadow at Ebernoe Common. I have a rubbish photo but it's on my old work computer.

Mesosa nebulosa - Nationally Scarce - 1 record
Recorded in April 2016 by a young lad on a BMIG weekend at Sheffield Park, semi-emerged in a fallen log. This is one of the smartest beetles I have ever seen.

Rhagium inquisitor - Nationally Scarce - 1 record
Also at the wood yard at Abernethy back in 2007. I found a hard copy of the photo!

Aromia moschata - 2 records
I have definitely seen this three times, the first being in flight at Lakenheath around 2005. Such an impressive beetle.

Arhopalus rusticus - 2 records
I last recorded this under pine bark at Old Lodge in 2013.

Paracorymbia fulva - Nationally Scarce - 2 records
I first picked this up in Jersey in 2017, recorded twice since in Surrey in 2018.

Poecilium alni - Nationally Scarce - 2 records
This doesn't seem right to me, I am sure I have seen this more than this and I have recorded it at least twice this year already. Like a tiny budget version of Anaglyptus.

Pogonocherus fasciculatus - Nationally Rare - 2 records
It's only known Sussex site is Graffham Common where it's not hard to find on low pine branches.

Stenostola dubia (Lime Beetle) - Nationally Scarce - 2 records
I beat one from foliage on the edge of the glades at Ebernoe back in 2009 and the nothing until May 2020 when I beat one from a veteran lime in West Sussex, amazingly I thought to my self, I wonder if this is how you get Stenostola?! It also flew off before I could get a decent photo! It was quite a lot bigger than the first one I saw.

Stictoleptura scutellata - Nationally Scarce - 2 records
I have only ever seen this in the New Forest, way back in 2011 and not seen since.

Agapanthia villsoviridescens - 3 records
Still not all that common in Sussex but spreading. Spectacular but not saproxylic.

Leiopus sp. - 3 records

This also seems wrong, I have definitely seen this more than this. Yet to pick one up this year though.

Obrium brunneum - 3 records
I have had this a further three times this year already, despite my last previous record being 2013.

Phymatodes testaceus - 3 records
A beetle I very rarely see. I see many species with status more then this in Sussex.

Prionus coriarius - Nationally Scarce - 3 records
This is one impressive beetle! Not seen it since 2015 at Ebernoe. Finding this one at rest at the Mens in 2010 was great fun!

Pyrrhidium sanguineum - 3 records
Spreading rapidly in Sussex, already had it twice this year. Lovely colour/texture, quite unlike any other beetle.

Phytoecia cylindrica - 4 records
Another non-saproxylic. I have never managed a photo of this species. 

Stenurella nigra - Nationally Rare - 4 records
Ebernoe, especially Furnace Meadow, and the West Weald is a stronghold for this beetle and it does seem to like the flowers of Hemlock Water-dropwort. Nice little red abdomen underneath not obvious from most photos.

Stictoleptura rubra - 5 records
Another one that has spread rapidly after first being recorded in the county at Iping Common. It's now well established at Graffham Common.

Pogonocherus hispidulus - 6 records
I can easily separate these two beetles but the names continue to frustrate me. Shorter name = shorter beetle should be an easy hint!

Pogonocherus hispidus - 6 records
Everything about these two beetles similar, including it would seem, how I often I record them!

Anaglyptus mysticus - 7 records
I have picked up this beetle twice this year. It is such a glorious beast. What's not to like about the magical wallpaper beetle?

Rhagium mordax - 8 records
Seen once this year so far, a Hawthorn blossom classic.

Pachytodes cerambyciformis - 9 records
Seen once this year so far. The tubbiest of all longhorns.

Leptura aurulenta - (Hornet Beetle) Nationally Scarce - 10 records
Despite being quite scarce, this is pretty widespread in West Sussex and even occurs at Graffham Common. I have a great photo of a female somewhere but I think it's on the Trust computer. This is the beetle that got me into beetling back in 2009 when I found it in the glades at Ebernoe. This is male, the females are much bulkier with more yellow on them.

Rhagium bifasciatum - 10 records
The pinewood classic. Had it twice this year already.

Alosterna tabaciciolor - 11 records
Thought I had a photo of this little brown job but obviously not! The common little wriggly ones clearly don't hold as much interest for me. Not seen it yet this year.

Leptura quadrifasciata - 11 records
Another one I can't find a photo for. Much less common in West Sussex where it is replaced by aurulenta. I picked up a male aurulenta attempting to mate with a female quadrifasciata at Knepp back in 2015!

Stenocorus meridianus - 11 records
Another big impressive beetle I can't find photos for. 

Pseudovadonia livida (Fairy-ring Longhorn) - 12 records
No photos again of this little grassland longhorn.

Tetrops praeustus - 18 records
Had this a lot this year already. A trend here, no photos again!

Stenurella melanura - 29 records
A big jump in records here.

Clytus arietis (Wasp Beetle) - 35 records
Everyone know this one!

Rutepla maculata - 52 records
And this one...

Grammoptera ruficornis - 66 records
The super abundant little black longhorn. Amazed I have a photo of this one.

They are such wonderful and charismatic beetles. I think their brief flight period also adds to their excitement value! They are also a great window into beetles in general. I would love to get Saperda populnea next, it's only known from one site in Sussex as far as I can tell. I think however, Saperda scalaris is my most coveted beetle but no chance of that down here.

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