Cardinal Beetles in the logs

One of the bonuses of having a log store is the chance of turning up interesting invertebrates in the course of sawing and splitting said logs.  Earlier this month I came across this larva when moving a log that had been stacked for several months.  It turned out to be a larval Black-headed Cardinal Beetle, Pyrochroa coccinea.  These larvae are flattened from top to bottom (laterally compressed) as an adaptation for living in the narrow spaces between the bark and trunk of dead wood, where they prey on other invertebrates, using their fearsome-looking jaws.

Larva of Black-headed Cardinal Beetle, Pyrochroa coccinea, Monmouthshire, Wales, UK

Larva of Black-headed Cardinal Beetle, Pyrochroa coccinea, Monmouthshire, Wales, UK


As it happened, I had seen and photographed an adult of the same species in the garden last summer.  

Black-headed Cardinal Beetle, Pyrochroa coccinea, Monmouthshire. Family Pyrochroidae.

Black-headed Cardinal Beetle, Pyrochroa coccinea. Monmouthshire, Wales

There are two other species of Cardinal Beetle (family Pyrochroidae); all are predominantly red in colour.  They are strong fliers active mostly in May, June and July.  They are not to be confused with the smaller Lily Beetle, Lilioceris lilii, also bright red, but which is a pest species that was introduced to the UK sometime before 1939.

Larva and adult of Black-headed Cardinal Beetle, Pyrochroa coccinea, Monmouthshire, Wales, UK. Montage from two separate images.

Larva and adult of Black-headed Cardinal Beetle, Pyrochroa coccinea, Monmouthshire, Wales, UK. Montage from two separate images.


All photographs taken with a Canon 100mm f2.8 lens macro lens and diffused flash
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