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Aphanisticus pusillus (Olivier, 1790)







POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886



AGRILINAE Laporte, 1835

APHANISTICINI Jacquelin du Val, 1859

Aphanisticus Latreille, 1829

Widespread and locally common across southern Europe from Portugal to Greece but becoming more sporadic and scarce further north to the UK, Denmark and southern Sweden, also known from Algeria, Tunisia and parts of Asia Minor. In the UK it is widespread though very local across southern England and Wales and there are a few scattered records further north to Lancashire and Yorkshire. Adults are present year-round; they are active from April or May and the new-generation appears from July so that they may be seen over a long season extending into the autumn when they enter tussocks and moss to overwinter. Typical habitats are open grassland, downs and heathland, usually in rather dry areas exposed to the sun. Host plants include various Cyperaceae and Juncaceae, in the UK mostly on Black Bog-rush (Schoenus nigricans L.) but more in Europe also recorded from Blue sedge (Carex flacca Schreb.), Field Wood-rush (Luzula campestris L.) and reported from other species of Carex L. and Juncus L. Mating occurs in the spring and females oviposit on the ventral surface of upright leaves, usually a single egg to each leaf, and sealing the oviposition site with a drop of secretion which rapidly dries. Larvae mine down the leaf, producing a long and narrow mine about 1 mm wide and up to 42 mm long which contains a narrow central line of dark frass. Pupation occurs at the base of the mine and adults eclose after a week  or two. Adults may be extracted from moss or tussock samples through the colder months, they tend to climb stems to avoid rises in water level and so do not generally appear among flood refuse, they otherwise spend most of their time among host flower-heads or foliage and so will need to be searched for very carefully.

Aphanisticus pusillus 1

Aphanisticus pusillus 1

© Lech Borowiec

Aphanisticus pusillus 2

Aphanisticus pusillus 2

© U.Schmidt

2.2-3.0 mm. Elongate and discontinuous in outline, body and appendages black with a weak bronzy or bluish metallic reflection, dorsal surface glabrous and with moderately strong cellular microsculpture throughout. Head transverse, with long diverging temples behind weakly convex eyes that are continuous with the outline, surface widely and deeply longitudinally impressed from the vertex to the anterior margin and sparsely and weakly punctured throughout. Antennomeres 1 & 2 thickened, 3-7 elongate and slender, 8-11 form a dentate club. Pronotum widest near the middle, rounded to slightly-projecting anterior angles and strongly sinuate before acute posterior angles, basal margin strongly bisinuate, surface rather flattened, explanate laterally and with wide, shallow punctures. Elytra twice as long as wide and almost as long as the head and pronotum combined, distinctly constricted about the middle and separately-rounded, surface uneven, especially towards the lateral margins, with more or less complete and rather strongly-punctured striae although these may become confused, especially laterally towards the apex. Legs short and robust; femora unarmed, middle and hind tibiae with a few fine spines and setae externally towards the apex. Tarsi 5-segmented, basal segments lobed below, segment three strongly bilobed. Distinguished from other UK genera by the presence of a single untoothed claw to each tarsus, and from A. emerginatus by the form of the pronotum.

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