Athous campyloides Newman, 1833

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

ELATEROIDEA Leach, 1815

ELATERIDAE Leach, 1815

DENTICOLLINAE Stein & Weise, 1877

DENTICOLLINI Stein & Weise, 1877

Athous Eschscholtz, 1829

Orthathous Reitter, 1905

This species is restricted to western and northern Europe from Spain to Belgium, extending south to the Pyrenees and north to the UK, it has also been recorded from Germany but there it is thought to have been introduced. Here it is locally common in Sussex and Kent and more sporadic and scattered further north into the midlands; there are records from south and central Wales, Cornwall, Norfolk and many from the London area but it is likely to be under-recorded; we have recorded them frequently from South Hertfordshire and Greater London but always at night and only over a brief season. Adults are active from late May until July and are mostly crepuscular and nocturnal, we have swept a single female during the day from grass beside a gravel pit in South Herts but,  given the large amount of such sampling we do, this is probably exceptional, males are very active and occasionally attracted to light while females tend to stay hidden among low vegetation. They occur in a wide range of habitats, often on calcareous grassland but also along woodland borders, wooded parkland and gardens; in our experience they are associated with trees and fallen timber as we find them by searching trunks at night in a local park and on one occasion we found a large population active around gathered fallen branches by a lakeside in West London. Larvae develop in a wide range of situations e.g. Lohse gives ‘Larvae in dry soil’ while in the UK they have been found in compost, including among potted plants, and in a range of soils differing widely in moisture content, they feed on grass roots but are also predatory and known to consume worms. Adults are easy to record by searching at night when males will occasionally be seen flying around trunks or over vegetation but they may also be conspicuous in the evening as they rest on foliage and trunks before becoming active, females may be found by sweeping known habitats by day or night.

9.5-11.5mm. Entirely pale to mid-brown, often indistinctly darker in places but usually with the pronotal angles paler, appendages entirely pale reddish-brown. The sexes differ in many points and so are easily distinguished as follows. Head transverse, simply convex across the vertex and flat anteriorly, with convex and prominent eyes that are much larger in the male, antennae long and filiform, much longer in the male, with the basal segment much shorter than the following two. Pronotum slightly elongate, more convex, broader and more strongly curved laterally in the female, surface finely and quite densely punctured and lacking a ridge above the produced posterior angles. Elytra very elongate with sloping shoulders and deeply depressed around the scutellum, gradually narrowed from the basal third to an acuminate apex in the male, more parallel-sided in the basal two-thirds then evenly narrowed to a rounded apical margin in the apical third. Elytral striae shallow and finely punctured, often more strongly so in the male, and complete to the apex, interstices convex towards the base and apex, otherwise almost flat, finely punctured and pubescent throughout. Although distinctive this species may, without experience, be confused with other members of the genus but it differs from all except bicolour in having the fourth tarsal segment exposed and not partially hidden by the lobed third segment, and from bicolour by the relative length of the fourth segment; in the present species it is about half the length of the third whereas in bicolour it is about one third the length of the third, in any case the species will soon become familiar from their general appearance.

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