Anthaxia Eschscholtz, 1829

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

BUPRESTOIDEA Leach, 1815

BUPRESTIDAE Leach, 1815

BUPRESTINAE Leach, 1815

A. nitidula (Linnaeus, 1758)

A. quadripunctata (Linnaeus, 1758)

Among the larger of the buprestid genera; about 800 species are known from all biogeographical regions except for Australasia. Northern temperate regions tend to be diverse although this falls sharply with latitude; about 170 species and subspecies are known from Europe but most of these occur in Mediterranean regions and only 43 species have been recorded from Central Europe. The faunas of North Africa and Asia Minor are much larger and include many very localized endemics; several Mediterranean islands have endemic species and some, e.g. Crete, have several. Very few species extend into Northern Europe, and of these only two have been recorded from the UK (see below), although a third species, the Western Mediterranean A. dimidiata (Thunberg, 1789) has also been recorded but not known to have established. Most species are associated with deciduous or coniferous trees where the larvae develop under bark although some tunnel deep into the xylem to pupate. Adults are seasonal and most visit flowers, especially yellow flowers. Many species are common in warmer regions and many are locally abundant but most Central European species tend to be scarce or only locally common. The species vary in size, from 4.0 mm to 15 mm, but most are at the smaller end of the range, they are elongate, rather broad with transverse pronotum and elytra near parallel-sided or slightly constricted about the middle and dilated to a continuously-rounded apex, although in some they are strongly narrowed from rounded or angled shoulders to narrowly truncate apical margins. Colour varies from dull black to brilliant metallic blue, green or red, many species are bicoloured with contrasting forebody and elytra, and some have stripes of contrasting areas of colour to the pronotum and/or elytra. The antennae have one or two basal segments enlarged and vary from simply filiform to dentate or gradually broadened distally, and sensory pores are situated in well-defined pits on the underside or towards the apex of the segments. The head is short with large reniform and convex eyes that are close to, or even partly covered by, the pronotal margin, and the vertex id often longitudinally impressed. Pronotum very variable, from simply convex and cylindrical to broadened about the base or middle and moderately strongly sculptured, the base is straight or nearly so and the surface is usually microsculptured and wrinkled. Meso- and metasternum apparently completely divided, with a transverse suture between the middle coxae, metasternal epimers covered by a broadened abdomen. Abdomen with eight visible tergites, and the last sternite not impressed medially or produced apically. Elytra usually randomly punctured and distinctly microsculptured, the surface very variable but often with longitudinal ridges or impressions and sometimes with distinct rows of large punctures. Claws paired and either simple or thickened towards the base. Among our UK fauna they may be distinguished by the short antennae, straight pronotal base, rounded elytral apices and paired and simple claws.

Anthaxia nitidula 1

Anthaxia nitidula 1

Anthaxia quadripunctata 1

Anthaxia quadripunctata 1

Anthaxia nitidula 2

Anthaxia nitidula 2

Anthaxia nitidula (Linnaeus, 1758)

This species is very widely distributed in Europe, the nominate subspecies is generally common across the south from Portugal to Greece and extends sporadically north into the Baltic countries, including Sweden, while ssp. signaticollis Krynicki, 1832 is more eastern, occurring from central Europe and the Balkans into Ukraine and Russia. The nominate subspecies was formerly known from a few sites in the New Forest but is now presumed to be extinct here, being last recorded in 1954. The typical habitat is open broadleaf woodland, wooded borders, parkland and orchards etc., and adults appear over a short season from May until July. Adults are active in warm sunshine, they occur on wood and foliage but spend much of their time visiting flowers, mostly blossom but also on various herbaceous plants, they often occur in numbers and are generally very active, flying between flowers and host plants. Larvae develop under bark or bore into stems of a range of rosaceous trees and shrubs; in the UK it was recorded from Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa L.) but more generally from hawthorn (Crataegus Tourn. Ex L.), Medlar (Mespilus germanica L.) and a range of Prunus L., Sorbus L., Pyrus L. Both large and small branches as well as stems or trunks may be chosen for oviposition, usually lower down on the plants, and eggs are usually laid in small numbers.

4.2-7.5 mm. Elongate, broad and discontinuous in outline, glabrous and shiny, entirely bluish- or reddish- green or, in males with a paler, golden-green pronotum, in females strikingly bicoloured greenish-blue or blue with a reddish pronotum. Head flat and coarsely microsculptured between large convex eyes, vertex not, or only weakly impressed and antennae gradually widened from the fourth or fifth segment in both sexes. Pronotum transverse, broadest in front of the middle  and narrowed to projecting anterior angles and obtuse posterior angles, apical margin strongly sinuate and basal margin almost straight. Pronotal surface flat with dense granular microsculpture, often forming transverse patterns across the disc, a fine median groove towards the base and widely depressed between this and the posterior angles. Scutellum parallel-sided towards the base then narrowed to an acute or finely rounded apex, usually black, contrasting with the surrounding elytra. Elytra almost twice as long as together wide, parallel-sided from obtusely angled shoulders and narrowed to separately curved apical margins, surface roughly sculptured, obliquely raised below the shoulders and usually with incomplete longitudinal impressions. Claws paired and untoothed.

Anthaxia nitidula 2.jpg

Anthaxia quadripunctata (Linnaeus, 1758)

Anthaxia quadripunctata 1.jpg

Among the most widespread members of the genus, this species occurs throughout the Palaearctic region, reaching Sakhalin in the Far East, it is generally the most common species in southern and central Europe and it extends to the Baltic countries and the far north of Fennoscandia. The species is known from only a few UK specimens, the most recent being a pair taken in West Sussex in 1972, and it is unlikely to have become established. The species is associated with various conifer trees, both in plantations extending to middle mountain altitudes, and with trees in parks and gardens etc. Adults occur between May and September, they are diurnal and fly to a range of mostly yellow or white flowers in warm weather. Larvae develop under bark of recently dead trees or weakened trunks and branches, usually where these have been attacked by other wood-boring insects, but they have also been found in structural timbers and fence posts and panels. The usual hosts are firs (Abies Mill.), spruce (Picea (Mill.) and larches (Larix Mill.) but other species have been recorded, including Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and Juniper (Juniperus communis L.). Larvae develop through the spring and summer, overwinter under bark and pupate the following spring. Adults tend to be common where they occur, they are very cryptic against host bark and are usually easiest to fine on flowers, where they may occur in large numbers, or in flight.

4.0-8.0 mm. Entirely shiny black or with a bronze reflection to the head. Head smoothly convex or, at most, weakly impressed medially, and roughly sculptured throughout, sexually dimorphic; in males the eyes are larger and the interocular distance smaller. Pronotum transverse, widest about the middle where it is often obtusely angled, and narrowed to projecting anterior angles and obtuse posterior angles, apical and basal margins weakly sinuate, surface granulate and very finely punctured throughout and with four wide depressions across the centre, two on the disc and one towards each lateral margin. Scutellum triangular with curved sides, flat and shiny, contrasting with the surrounding elytra. Elytra broadly-oval, less than 2X longer than wide, parallel-sided from rounded shoulders and curved in the apical third to separately-rounded apical margins, explanate margin broadened after the middle. Elytral surface randomly punctured and roughly sculptured throughout, usually with a weak oblique humeral callus and several vague longitudinal ridges. Claws paired and untoothed.