Astrapaeus ulmi (Rossi, 1790)
According to various older works e.g. Redtenbacher, 1874 or Ganglbauer, 1895 this species inhabits rotten tree trunks or loose bark, and Lohse, 1964 quotes it occurrence in southern central Europe as ‘preferring hollow trees, very rare’ but this seems to be atypical of the beetles through much of its range; it is predominantly Mediterranean, occurring across southern Europe from Portugal to Turkey but only very rarely further north e.g. there is only a single 20th century record from Poland and its occurrence in the UK is based on a few 21st century records from coastal East Sussex (Hance, 2007). In southern Europe the typical habitat is among leaf-litter and plant remains or under debris on warm and humid grassland and it occurs regularly among grass in domestic gardens; the UK specimens were recorded from undercliff environments, far from wooded areas and it is thought the beetles were associated with cliff-nesting birds such as pigeons, jackdaws and fulmars in enclosed places. The species is not included in the keys of Joy or Fowler but Stephens claims to have found it at Coombe-wood although his specimen is yet to be found. The larva has been described and beautifully illustrated HERE.
Resembles a bicoloured Quedius e.g. Q. cinctus or Q. plagiatus but is generally much larger and has the terminal segment of the labial palps dilated and truncate, in Quedius it is fusiform.
10-15mm. The body is entirely dark but for the elytra and parts of the seventh and eighth abdominal tergites which are red. Head transverse, rounded laterally and with a distinct broad neck, eyes weakly convex; continuous with the lateral margin, shiny and glabrous; lacking microsculpture and with scattered tiny punctures. Antennae dark with the basal segments variously pale and all segments elongate. Pronotum transverse, with rounded posterior angles, acute and sharp anterior angles and smoothly curved laterally, the surface shiny and glabrous with scattered tiny punctures and several large setiferous punctures close to the lateral margin. Elytra quadrate or nearly so, glabrous and shiny, with several long setae laterally and two irregular longitudinal series of punctures; one on the disc and one next to the suture. Wings well-developed. Abdomen broadest before the middle and evenly tapering to the apex, black with a blue iridescence which is especially obvious towards the base, finely and quite densely punctured and pubescent; apex of tergites three to six fringed with a series of larger setae. Legs long and robust; red or with the femora darker, sometimes black, all tibiae with spines along the outer margin and strong spurs on the inner-apical angle, pro-tarsi dilated in both sexes.
Ganglbauer, L. 1895 The Beetles of Central Europe, second volume. Gerold, Vienna.
Hance, D. 2007 Astrapaeus ulmi (Rossi, 1790) in Britain. Coleopterist, 16: 1
Lohse G.A. 1964 in The Beetles of Central Europe, Vol. 4. Goecke & Evers, Krefeld.
Redtenbacher, L. 1874 Fauna austriaca, The Beetles, Vol. 1 Gerold, Vienna.