During our wanderings this year we have been fortunate to run into a few interesting beetles, including a couple I hadn’t seen before. Here is a small sample. The “beetle year” started in April with the usual swarm of Green Tiger Beetles, Cicindela campestris. These are the commonest of the UK’s tiger beetles and the one most likely to be seen, running about on patches of sandy soil, usually south-facing, and taking flight if it’s warm enough. The larvae live in sand and build pitfall traps in the form of inverted cones. Both larvae and adults are efficient predators, with large horny jaws.
By June there were plenty of beetles in the Peak District, including the distinctive Green Nettle Weevil, Phyllobius pomaceus,which are indeed green and live on nettles.
Later in June we visited South Wales and were fortunate to find a few Strandline Beetles, Nebria complanata, also known as Beachcomber Beetles. These are adapted to live exclusively on sandy beaches and, like the Tiger Beetle, are voracious predators with large jaws. I have been unable to find out much about their life-cycle but colonies appear to be associated with deposits of driftwood towards the top of beaches (the strandline, in fact).
Violet Ground Beetles are not uncommon and can be found under logs and flat stones, where their main prey – slugs – also live. There are two types, quite similar, and the one illustrated is the least well-known, Carabus problematicus, which doesn’t seem to have an English name of its own so it will have to share a name with the more common species (Carabus violaceus).
Finally, I was pleased to find a Lesser Stag Beetle while I was out looking for Midwife Toads in South Yorkshire recently. They are not too common around here and this one was a beauty. Smaller than the better known Stag Beetle, but impressive never-the-less and looking very smart with its orange trimming. It delights in the scientific name of Dorcus parallelipipedus. Wonderful.
Photographic note: All the beetles were photographed with a Canon 5D Mklll, 100mm IS macro lens (the new one) using a Canon MT-24 twin flashgun or, in the case of the larger species, a Canon 550EX Speedlite (the old one) fitted with a diffuser.