Brachypterus urticae (Fabricius, 1792)

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CUCUJOIDEA Latreille, 1802

KATERETIDAE Kirby, 1837

BRACHYPTERUS Kugelann, 1794

This widespread and generally common species is native to the Palaearctic and Asian regions and now occurs throughout the Middle East, Siberia, Japan and South Korea. First recorded in North America by Erichson in 1843 it is now widespread throughout the United States and Canada. In the U.K. it is generally common and locally abundant throughout England and Wales, being more local and sporadic through Scotland including the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland. Adults are active from April or May depending on the season and are soon abundant, they occur initially on nettles in almost any situation, including urban gardens and parks etc. Both adults and larvae feed on the growing flower buds and the larvae will develop in the flowers and seed capsules. Fully grown larvae enter the soil around the base of the host to pupate. Hosts include various Urticacaea; in Europe this is the common nettle, Urtica dioica L. while in the Nearctic region the Canadian nettle, Laportea canadensis (L.) and Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis (Aiton) are hosts. In Japan the widespread East Asian Urtica thunbergiana Siebold is the only known host. The adults soon disperse and may be found on a range of flowers but especially various umbels where they may occur in large numbers, often alongside B. glaber (Stephens, 1832) and large numbers of Meligethes and Anaspis. Flowers of Ranunculus and Taraxacum may also host both species, especially where they grow alongside nettle beds. The adults remain common into late summer.

1.8-2.2mm. Habitus broadly elongate with the pronotum and elytra separately rounded. The upper surface is dark with a distinct bronze or green reflection and strongly punctured, the cuticle smooth and shiny, and the pubescence short and pale. Legs, antennae and palps pale; red to pale brown with the legs a little darker.  The head is transverse with prominent and convex eyes and characteristically produced anteriorly, the clypeus emarginate and finely punctured, pubescent and microsculptured near the front margin. Labrum exposed and weakly notched anteriorly.  Antennae slightly shorter than the width of the head, and with a distinct 3-segmented club. Pronotum rounded laterally and sinuate before the hind angles, basal margin straight. The lateral margins are strongly bordered, the basal margin only weakly so or not at all. Scutellum large and transverse, either triangular or curved. Elytra quadrate to weakly transverse, and randomly and very strongly punctured. Propygidium produced backwards laterally. Basal segments of all tarsi strongly bilobed and usually clear yellow. Claws with a large and distinct basal tooth.

Similar Species
Brachypterus glaber
  • Legs dark.
  • Upper surface without metallic reflection.
  • Punctures fine and dense.
  • Pronotum sinuate in basal quarter.
Meligethes spp.
  • Antennal club compact and abrupt.
  • Pygidium only exposed beyond elytra.

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