Ampedus cinnabarinus (Eschscholtz, 1829)

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

ELATEROIDEA Leach, 1815

ELATERIDAE Leach, 1815

ELATERINAE Leach, 1815

AMPEDINI Gistel, 1848

Ampedus Dejean, 1833 

This transpalaearctic species occurs from Portugal to the far east of Russia although it is absent from Japan, it is widespread in Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor and extends north into central Fennoscandia and the UK; it is locally common in central and southern Europe but sporadic and generally rare in the north where it is known to have declined over recent decades. In the UK it is very rare and more or less confined to a few areas in Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey and in England and Wales above the Severn estuary, there are a few older records from the English midlands but it now seems to be confined to the south and west. Typical habitats are old established deciduous woodland with plenty of large trees and fallen timber in various stages of decay, the species is associated with a wide range of deciduous trees, especially Beech, Fagus sylvatica L., Aspen, Populus tremula L. and birches, Betula spp, but most frequently oaks, Quercus spp, and only rarely on various conifers, usually Pine, Pinus sylvestris L. Adults occur year-round and are active from early in the year until June or July, they are diurnal but usually remain on logs or bark during mild weather but become active in warm sun when they  fly readily and occasionally visit flowers. Mating occurs early in the year, sometimes under bark before they have emerged from their overwintering quarters, and females oviposit among decaying standing and fallen timber during May and June. Larvae develop within xylem, usually near the surface of denuded wood exposed to the sun; they develop through the summer, predating eggs and larvae of other insects, and pupate during August and September. Adults eclose in the autumn but remain in situ until the following spring. The large and conspicuous adults can hardly be missed as they sit on trunks and logs and they are very distinctive in flight, they may also be found on flowers and tree foliage and they usually occur in numbers, but searching under bark through the winter and early spring will often reveal them.

Ampedus cinnabarinus 1

Ampedus cinnabarinus 1

Ampedus cinnabarinus 2

Ampedus cinnabarinus 2

Ampedus cinnabarinus 3

Ampedus cinnabarinus 3

11.0-15.0 mm. Elongate and fusiform, entirely black but for the bright red elytra, dorsal surface with fine recumbent pubescence which is variable in colour but usually yellow on the pronotum and elytral margins and otherwise black, similar to several other UK members of the genus but distinguished by the form of the antennae and the pronotal punctation. Antennae serrate from the fourth segment; the third weakly conical (not flattened) and similar to the second, and both shiny and only sparsely punctured, clearly contrasting with the densely punctured fourth segment. Pronotum elongate, widest across the produced posterior angles and unevenly narrowed to a straight apical margin, disc convex and separated from the smooth basal area by two arcuate depressions which are separated by a smooth area including a short medial impression, discal punctures coarse and dense anteriorly, becoming sparser towards the base, along the lateral margins the punctures are denser, larger and umbilicate (they appear as a puncture within a puncture) throughout (in some other species they become distinctly less dense towards the posterior angles.) Elytra elongate, with rounded shoulders, almost straight margins and continuously curved apically, entirely bright red or with obscure darker areas, all striae impressed and punctured to the apex, and all interstices weakly convex and finely punctured. Legs long and robust, tibiae narrow and with distinct apical spurs, tarsi 5-segmented and simple.