Top Ten Beetles of 2018

These are some of my favourite beetles that I saw in the UK in 2018.

The beetles in this list aren’t necessarily the rarest ones I saw, although a few are quite rare. Instead, I chose them from a personal perspective based on how much of an impact they had on me when I saw them (basically I chose the cool looking ones).

I must thank the London Natural History Society as a number of these species were found on their entomology trips. Specifically I am grateful to Tristan Bantock. Without his guidance and impressive skill with a sweep net, I am sure that I wouldn’t have encountered half of the species I saw last year.

Cossonus linearis 7/5/2018

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I found this on a walk around my local area in Kent on one of those rare, miraculous occasions when I actually remembered to bring a specimen tube. In fact I even brought my net and, when I saw this weevil sitting on a leaf near to an old poplar tree, I excitedly took a few photos and swept it up. I have always liked the look of tube-shaped saproxylic weevils and I knew that some of them could be fairly uncommon but it wasn’t until I got home and identified this specimen that I realised that this species is Notable A with sparse records for Kent!

Anaglyptus mysticus 12/5/2018

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I found this at Bookham Common on one of the London Natural History Society’s regular surveys. This was an excellent trip and we found several interesting species including another Longhorn beetle, Grammoptera ustulata, which is rare the UK.

In the afternoon, however, the weather took a turn for the worse and and it looked like our hopes of finding anything more amongst the wet tree branches were slim. (Conveniently I was using an upside down white umbrella as a beating tray that day. Inconveniently the umbrella had accumulated a lot of tree debris and small insects before I turned it the right way up and used it for its conventional purpose, so my head became curiously itchy…)

Despite the rain, we didn’t give up and continued to beat heavy raindrops out of the hawthorn branches. We were considering calling it a day when a largeish colourful beetle plopped onto my upturned umbrella (again used as a beating tray as the desire for another beetle eventually outweighed the desire for being dry). I recognised it as Anaglyptus mysticus from previous encounters during trap-catch sorting at my old job with Forest Research, however this was the first time I had ever seen one alive.

I chose to include this in my top ten because it is a very pretty longhorn, quite uncommon with notable B status and it sat obligingly still for numerous photos. However, the main reason is the sense of great achievement that it gave me when our rain-sodden, desperate searching was rewarded. It is also probably the most impressive thing I have ever beaten from a Hawthorn tree myself.

Hylecoetus dermestoides 19/5/2018

Chipstead Downs & Banstead Woods 19.5.2018

I saw this beetle twice last year, both times on LNHS trips. The one in the photo was found on a log pile in Banstead Woods. It is associated with dead wood and apparently gets its name from the fungus Endomyces hylecoeti which its larvae consume. It is a very unusual looking beetle, with its long orange body and relatively short antennae and every time one was glimpsed, a flurry of net sweeping ensued. It is one of only two British species from the family Lymexylidae – in more exotic locales, this family contains even more extremely elongated species.

Cryptocephalus bipunctatus 26/5/2018

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We found this beetle on the spectacular chalk grasslands of Denbies Hillside. It has notable B status and is localised across the UK. This species was one of the most memorable from this trip for me. I had never seen it before but found it quite frequently by sweep netting on the day. I liked the elytral pattern and was excited to find a non-green, non-tiny Cryptocephalus.

Donacia cinerea & Donacia semicuprea 17/6/2018

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These two Donacia were both found on a ‘Donacia mission’ to Cheshunt Gravel Pits organised by Tristan. We were looking for any unusual Donaciines that some of us hadn’t seen before. On sweeping hundreds of reeds (and narrowly avoiding a going swimming in the lakes a few times) we found the usual crop of common Donacia simplex and some Plateumaris sericea, but eventually we started finding a few individuals of the above two species.

Donacia cinerea is distinctive, being the only British Donacia covered in dusty white pubescence, and has a nationally notable B status.

Donacia semicuprea is quite a small, stout species. It is apparently relatively common wherever reed sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima) is found; however, this was the first time I had encountered it.

Agrilus cuprescens 24/6/2018

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We found this species on another beetle ‘mission’, this time to Wanstead Flats. Agrilus cuprescens had been recorded new to Britain by Peter Hodge, nearby in Beckton in 2010. It’s larvae develop within the stems of Rubus and Rosa plants and, similar to Peter, we found numerous adults basking and flying around the leaves of a bramble bush.

Platycis minutus 28/8/2018

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This is the first and only beetle from the family Lycidae (Net-winged beetles) that I have ever seen alive. I was especially excited to find it as it was my first ever successfully ‘twitched’ beetle. I went to Cobham Park specifically in search of this species, having checked the habitat preferences and consulted the NBN website. Generally, when I go looking for a specific thing, I will not find it – hence my poor luck with stag beetles. But this bright red beauty was sitting waiting for me on a birch log, right on cue. I am including it in this list because I think it is beautiful and because finding it myself made me feel like a half-competent Coleopterist.

Brachinus sclopeta (Streaked bombardier beetle) 3/10/2018

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Naturally I had to include this one because it is the only endangered beetle species I found last year. The University of East London, where I am now studying, has a small conservation area called the ‘beetle bump‘, set aside specifically for the streaked bombardier beetle. This is a very rare beetle in the UK which is threatened by the loss of valuable brownfield habitat in London. The species hadn’t been seen on the beetle bump for a few years, but by some extreme serendipity, there just happened to be one under one of the first rocks I turned over on my first ever visit! As you can see by the blurry photo, my excitement was difficult to contain.

Chrysomela saliceti 13/10/2018

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This final beetle was originally found in Stratford by a team at the University of East London and, after receiving the tip-off, I went out to see it myself. This is probably only the second British locality recorded for it, although it did seem to be doing particularly well there! Anyway, rare or not, it is a beautiful, colourful species.

 

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my 2018 beetle experiences. I will leave you with some photos of a few other species that didn’t quite make it into my top ten. Here’s to another year of interesting beetles!

Henospilachna argus – Bryony ladybird, adult and larva/ Leiopus sp./ Rhagium mordax

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