Cantharis nigricans (Müller, O.F., 1776)

Suborder:

Superfamily: 

Family:      

Subfamily:

Tribe:

Genus:

POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

ELATEROIDEA Leach, 1815

CANTHARIDAE Imhoff, 1856

CANTHARINAE Imhoff, 1856

CANTHARINI Imhoff, 1856

Cantharis Linnaeus, 1758

Widespread and generally common throughout the Palaearctic region, this species occurs from lowland to about 2500 m across Europe from the Pyrenees to Russia in the south, although it is absent from much of the Balkan Peninsula and most of the Mediterranean islands, and north to the UK and central provinces of Fennoscandia. It is generally abundant throughout England and Wales, including all the islands, and more scattered though generally common further north to Orkney and across Northern Ireland. Adults are become common rather suddenly towards the beginning of May and remain common into late June or early July, the earliest specimens often coincide with the opening of Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna Jacq) blossom and peak numbers occur by mid-June. Typical habitats are established grassland and scrub with varied herbaceous vegetation, but they also frequent disturbed ground and roadsides etc. and are often common beside hedgerows bordering agricultural land. Early in the season they occur on blossom, and often in numbers, but they soon disperse and by mid-June may be found on flowers generally, especially various umbels (Apiaceae) and thistles (Asteraceae) and, as they are frequent and strong fliers, may occur in any suitable situation including open woodland, parkland and even domestic gardens. Adults are diurnal and predatory, hunting out small insects etc. on foliage and flowers (in Europe they have been observed feeding on various apions) but they also consume pollen and nectar. Mating occurs on flowers and foliage after a period of feeding, and females oviposit into the ground. Eggs develop quickly and larvae appear by late June. Larvae are terrestrial predators, they hunt mainly at night and spend the day under stones or among tussocks or moss etc., they continue feeding through the winter and enter the ground in the spring to pupate. Single adults have been recorded from January but these are exceptional and mass emergence usually occurs from early May. The species (along with various other cantharids) is a significant predator of pest insects in agricultural settings, especially of various terrestrial aphids that occur among overwintering seedlings. Adults will soon be noticed when sweeping or beating flowers and blossom, they also appear commonly when sweeping shrubs and herbaceous vegetation generally, and it is a frequent species in flight-interception traps.

Cantharis nigricans 1

Cantharis nigricans 1

Cantharis nigricans 2

Cantharis nigricans 2

Cantharis nigricans 3

Cantharis nigricans 3

8-11 mm. A variable species which soon becomes familiar from its overall appearance. Head bicoloured; tallow anteriorly and black from the front margin of the eyes to the base, pronotum yellow to orange, with or without a dark central marking, elytra black but appearing grey due to pale pubescence, antennae usually dark with the basal segments pale orange but often extensively pale. Legs reddish, usually with the femora, middle and hind tibiae and all tarsi at least to some extent darkened but always with the apex of the hind femora broadly dark. Abdomen extensively black. Head with convex eyes that occupy the anterior angles and long, converging temples, finely punctured and with very fine and forwardly oriented pubescence throughout. Apical maxillary palpomere weakly securiform. Antennae long and slender with all segments very elongate. Pronotum transverse; broadest in the basal half and smoothly curved to rounded angles, surface sparsely punctured and pubescent throughout, weakly convex with wide explanate margins, entirely orange or with dark markings that may be extensive. Elytra elongate and weakly dilated from rounded shoulders to separately-rounded apical margins, without striae, finely punctured throughout, and with sparse long recumbent hairs among dense short silvery-grey pubescence. Legs long and robust, especially the hind legs which have long femora and slender, curved tibiae. All tibiae with short and sharp apical spurs. Tarsi typical of the genus with the basal segments progressively broader, the forth deeply bilobed and the terminal segment long and curved. Claws unequal; the anterior claw of each pair strongly appendiculate and the inner claw simple.