Cantharis livida Linnaeus, 1758

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

ELATEROIDEA Leach, 1815

CANTHARIDAE Imhoff, 1856

CANTHARINAE Imhoff, 1856

CANTHARINI Imhoff, 1856

Cantharis Linnaeus, 1758

This species is generally common throughout much of the Palaearctic region; it extends from Europe through Asia Minor and Russia to Siberia and Mongolia although it is not known from China or Japan although following recent introductions it has become established and widespread in Eastern Canada and the United States. The species is locally common across Europe from the Pyrenees to Greece and Ukraine in the south, and north to the UK, Denmark and into northern provinces of Fennoscandia, it is widespread in North Africa but absent from most of the Atlantic islands and most of the Mediterranean islands. Several varieties are known, rufipes Herbst, 1784, in which the elytra are bluish-black with a pale subhumeral marking, occurs throughout the European range although its abundance varies; it is rather scarce in the UK but is the more common form in Poland, and var. bicolorata Ragusa, 1893, in which the elytra are darkened towards the apex, is known only from Italy. In the UK the species is widespread and locally common throughout England and Wales and very local and scarce further north into central Scotland. Adults are active over a short season from April until July or August although in most seasons the first specimens are not recorded until the middle of May. Typical habitats are open woodland, wooded parkland, scrub, hedgerows and grassland with plenty of shrubby vegetation; it is typically a lowland species although in Europe it is often common in mountain valleys etc. up to 2000 m. Adults are diurnal, they fly well and visit a range of flowers to feed on nectar and pollen although they also predate small insects when doing so and they can be cannibalistic, the females sometimes eating the males following mating. Females lay small batches of eggs into the ground from June and each will produce about 450 eggs. Larvae emerge after about two weeks they will spend their entire life on the ground, hunting mostly small molluscs and earthworms but they will also take insect larvae and other small invertebrates. The majority of the larvae life is passed in the sixth, and final, instar; this is reached by late summer, this stage is cold-tolerant and will last until the spring when pupation occurs in a cell within the soil. Adults will be found by sweeping low foliage and flowers generally, they usually occur in small numbers and they can be quite solitary insects although numbers may suddenly appear on hawthorn blossom when it opens in May, and they can be locally abundant on oilseed rape flowers in early summer.

Cantharis livida 1

Cantharis livida 1

Cantharis livida 2

Cantharis livida 2

Cantharis livida 3

Cantharis livida 3

Cantharis livida 4

Cantharis livida 4

10.0-14.0 mm. Among the larger of our pale species, with experience it may be recognized in the field from size and general colour but the form of the elytral pubescence, which consists of dense pale hairs that are all the same length, should be borne in mind. Body orange or pale brown except for a dark mark on both the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the head. Antennae dark with two or three basal segments and the base of the next few segments pale. Legs pale except for the mid-femora which are which may be darkened towards the apex, and the hind tibiae and apical third (at least) of the hind femora black. The form with dark elytra is rare in the UK but should be obvious due to the elytral pubescence and colour; the oval dark mark on the vertex combined with red front legs and extensively darkened hind femoral apices is unique among our fauna.