Anoplodera sexguttata (Fabricius, 1775)

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CHRYSOMELOIDEA Latreille, 1802

CERAMBYCIDAE Latreille, 1802

LEPTURINAE Latreille, 1802

LEPTURINI Latreille, 1802

Anoplodera Mulsant, 1839

This is a western Palaearctic species that extends east through Asia Minor and Russia almost as far as the Urals, it occurs throughout Europe north to the UK and some southern provinces of Fennoscandia and is widespread across western parts of North Africa though absent from most of the Mediterranean islands. Through most of this range it is very local and generally uncommon, and in many areas is thought to be in decline, but in certain areas of central Europe, including France and Germany, and in North Africa it remains common and may even be increasing. In the UK it is very local in southern and eastern England and South Wales and is sometimes said to be in decline but records might suggest otherwise. Adults are active from April until July or August, they inhabit open deciduous woodland with a good supply of trees in various stages of decay and plenty of fallen timber, they are diurnal and fly well, visiting a wide range of flowers to feed on pollen and nectar, usually umbels and other herbaceous plants in shaded clearings or on wooded borders but also trees in bloom and they may be common at hawthorn blossom as soon as it opens. Mating occurs throughout the season, usually on flowers in warm weather, and females oviposit among bark or in cracks on trunks and low branches. Larvae feed on hard and dry xylem, most often on oak (Quercus L.), hornbeam (Carpinus L.) and beech (Fagus L.) but a wide range of hosts are known, and often in numbers together, they produce random galleries and continue feeding until the wood is reduced to reddish-brown powdery frass. Larval development takes two or three years and pupation occurs in a cell constructed in the outer sapwood from early spring. New generation adults begin to appear in April and are generally present in numbers before the hawthorn blossom appears. Adults are very active in warm weather, spending much of their time visiting a series of flowers to feed and find mates, but otherwise must be searched for on trunks and branches although sweeping suitable foliage will sometimes produce them.

Anoplodera sexguttata

Anoplodera sexguttata

7-12 mm. Very distinctive due to the elytral markings and the form of the head and pronotum. Entirely rather shiny black but for yellow markings to the elytra; often with six discrete maculae, one inside the shoulders and one before and after the middle but the latter are commonly united, or very nearly united,  internally to produce an unmistakable pattern. Head densely and deeply punctured except for a smooth median line towards the front, with large and only weakly incised eyes and strongly converging temples that are sharp and variably produced into a tooth at the base. Antennae filiform and robust; in the male reaching at least to the elytral apex and in the female into the apical third. Pronotum elongate and notably convex, lateral margins curved and narrowed from a sub-basal to a sub-apical constriction, basal and apical margins almost straight. Pronotal punctures dense and strong but rarely confluent, pubescence grey or brown, upright and relatively long. Scutellum small, triangular and covered with, or at least fringed by, short recumbent golden or yellowish pubescence. Elytra with broadly-rounded shoulders and only gently narrowed to a truncate apical margin which is usually produced into a spine at the suture, often almost parallel-sided or even slightly dilated in females, surface randomly and strongly punctured, less densely so than the pronotum, without striae or distinct impressions, pubescence pale, short and recumbent. Legs black with the claws and tibial spurs red.  The extent of the elytral marking varies; in the vast majority of specimens they form a series as described above but they may be more extensive or, in extreme cases, missing altogether, in all cases the species is abundantly distinct and may be recognized easily among our UK fauna.