The Beetles (Coleoptera) Page


With about 370,000 known species the Coleoptera ('sheath wings') are the largest order of insects in the world. They are the second largest order in the UK with the Diptera ('two wings') being the largest.

Beetles come in all shapes and sizes but are characterised by their tough elytra which are modified forewings that have evolved principally to protect the more delicate hind wings used in flight. However not only do they protect the hind wings but the elytra usually cover the whole abdomen and they meet in a straight line down the centre.

All adult beetles are mandibulate, meaning that they have strong biting jaws, and they can exploit just about every available food source.

Beetles have a notable economic impact both positive (Mealworm beetles; Tenebrio molitor) and negative (Death-watch beetle; Xestobium rufovillosum).

Beetle larvae are as varied as the adults with many different forms and food sources. Beetle development is holometabolous, meaning that there is a significant change in form from the larval to the adult stage (complete metamorphisis).


(Pogonocherus hispidulus) : Greater thorn-tipped longhorn beetle
Photo Dave Monk
Length 5 to 8 mm.This species has white marked antennae and a white band on the scutellum (a triangular plate at the rear of the thorax). Well camouflaged on trees and shrubs by its lichen like appearance. It prefers deciduous trees and shrubs such as lime (Tilia sp). This beetle is usually seen in spring and autumn.
(See references below for information sources)
Distribution map for Pogonocherus hispidulus

(Clytus arietis) Wasp Beetle
Photo by Dave Monk
 This beetle is a good example of mimicry, where a harmless species mimics a more dangerous or toxic species to avoid predation.

It can be found from May until August usually in woodlands or along hedgerows. It breeds in the decaying wood of deciduous trees and is often seen resting in full view on low laying leaves.
(See references below for information sources)
Distribution map for Clytus arietis
(Rhagium bifasciatum)  Two-banded Longhorn Beetle
Photo by Dave Monk
A large species of longhorn beetle that may reach 22 millimetres long and can be distinguished by the two prominent pale yellow bands on each elytron.

Usually seen in the spring and summer months, this beetle is usually found on tree trunks or on flowers in woods and wooded areas.

Like many longhorn beetles, R. bifasciatum lays its eggs in dead wood, often using coniferous trees, where they bore deep, broad tunnels until they pupate after about two years.
(See references below for information sources)
Distribution map for Rhagium bifasciatum 

(Stenurella melanura) Black-striped longhorn beetle
Photo by Dave Monk
 A common and occasionally abundant species in the southern UK.

This beetle is seen from May to September and its typical habitat is woodland and wooded pasture. These beetles fly readily in sunshine and will visit a range of flowers.

The larvae bore longitudinal or undulating galleries in the sapwood of slender branches, trunks or decaying stumps, more especially in damp areas. Pupation probably occurs in the outer sapwood and the life cycle generally takes two years.
(See references below for information sources)

Distribution map for Stenurella melanura
(Leiopus nebulosus) Black-clouded Longhorn Beetle
Photo by Dave Monk
This beetle derives its common name from the dark patterning on the pale buff background of the elytra.

Seen in spring and summer this beetle is found in woodland with a preference for oaks (Quercus spp.), alders(Alnus) and limes(Tilia spp.).
(See references below for information sources)
Distribution map for Leiopus nebulosus

(Rhagium mordax)
This is a yellow beetle with brown and black mottling and two eye-like spots on its wing-cases.
Photo by Dave Monk
This beetle is often seen in May, June and July.
The adult favours open-structured flowers, particularly Hawthorn (Crataegus spp) and umbellifers where it feeds on nectar and pollen. Can be found in woods and hedgerows in most parts of Britain and is most often seen around flowers or in hedgerows in countryside areas.
(See references below for information sources)
Distribution map for Rhagium mordax


(Mesosa nebulosa) White clouded Longhorn Beetle
Photo by Dave Monk
A rare beetle in the UK, Red Data Book 3.
Mesosa nebulosa is a common species in Europe. It develops in dead and rather rotten twigs and branches of various deciduous trees, especially in hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), beech (Fagus sylvatica), oak (Quercus spp.) and lime (Tilia spp.). Adults hatch in the autumn and overwinter in the pupal cells.
(See references below for information sources)
Distribution Map for Mesona nebulosa
(Leptura quadrifasciata)
Photo by Dave Monk
 Leptura quadrifasciata, better known as Strangalia quadrifasciata, is a 'longhorn beetle' (i.e. a member of the family Cerambycidae). It has the long antennae characteristic of the family and, like most longhorns, is associated with old woodland, where its larvae are wood-borers in old trunks and stumps and logs. L. quadrifasciata is said to be associated particularly with oak (Quercus.spp) and alder (Alnus.spp), though willows (Salix.spp) are evidently also much used in central Europe. Nutrition of longhorn beetles appears to be from the wood itself, unlike a number of wood-boring beetles that feed primarily on the associated fungi. Adult L. quadrifasciata feeds on pollen and it is one of the species that can be seen on flowers such as various umbellifers.
(See references below for information sources)
Distribution Map for Leptura quadfirasciata   
(Grammoptera ruficornis)
Photo by Dave Monk
One of the smallest longhorn beetles in the UK, this species is brownish or dark grey with silky hairs on the wing cases, giving it a sheen. It has long antennae, where the 2nd segment is elongate - a feature which distinguishes it from the other two Grammoptera species found in Britain. All three have bulbous femora (top segment of the leg). Its front legs are orange and the antennae are banded with red and black.

Usually found in wooded areas in early summer this beetle is especially fond of Hawthorn (Crataegus spp) and Hogweed (Heracleum spp) flowers. The larvae feed on the wood of dead twigs.
(See references below for information sources)
Distribution map of Grammoptera ruficornis 

(Rutpela maculata)
Photo by Dave Monk

Seen in woodland margins and hedgerows between the months of May to August, this large and distinctive longhorn beetle is recognizable by the pattern of black and yellow markings. It has a preference for Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) and other umbellifers. The larvae feed in rotten wood emerging as adults in mid-spring.(See references below for information sources)
Distribution map for Rutpela maculata


(Stenocorus meridianus)
Photo by Dave Monk
Seen mainly in May and June on flowers and shrubs around the margins of wooded areas, this large beetle is a poor flier. Its colour varies from black though to a uniform dull yellow. The larvae develop in the damaged areas of diseased deciduous trees.(See references below for information sources)
Distribution map for Stenocorus meridianus

References
Collins Complete Guide to British Insects; Michael Chinery
The Insects (An outline of Entomology); P.J. Gullan & P.S.Cranston