Cerambyx scopolii Füssli, 1775
Lesser Capricorn Beetle

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CHRYSOMELOIDEA Latreille, 1802

CERAMBYCIDAE Latreille, 1802

CERAMBYCINAE Latreille, 1802

CERAMBYCINI Latreille, 1802

Cerambyx Linnaeus, 1758

This is not really a UK species, there are a few modern records from the south of England but these are from adventive European specimens, there are a few 19th century records from Cambridgeshire and the London area which may represent the last of a native population but this cannot be known for sure. The species is very widely distributed on the continent, it occurs throughout Europe, including most of the Mediterranean islands, except for central and northern parts of Fennoscandia, North Africa, Asia Minor and western Russia and has been recorded from the far east of Russia but it is not known whether this distribution is continuous. The species is generally common throughout southern and central Europe but much less so further north, it occurs mostly in lowland areas or wooded mountain slopes exposed to the sun and adults usually occur in numbers. The typical habitat is open deciduous woodland or wooded scrub etc although in southern Europe they sometimes occur in gardens and other disturbed areas. Although primarily a diurnal species, individuals have been recorded at light and feeding on sap at night. Adults are active from April until August; they emerge from host wood on warm sunny days and fly almost immediately to visit a range of flowers, especially roses, umbels and Hawthorn, where they spend long periods feeding on pollen and nectar. Mating occurs after a period of feeding, often on flowers or trunks, and females oviposit in crevices on dead or decaying wood, usually on rather isolated trees exposed to the sun. The usual host is oak (Quercus L.) but a wide range of deciduous trees have been recorded including poplar (Populus L.), hazel (Corylus L.), chestnut (Castanea Mill.), apple (Malus Mill.), cherry (Prunus L.), hornbeam (Carpinus L.), beech (Fagus L.) and others as well as, rarely, in conifers. Larvae develop through the summer in dead and decaying branches and trunks, they feed initially under bark but soon excavate meandering galleries up to 10 cm long in the xylem, they continue feeding through the summer and are fully-grown by the autumn when they construct galleries in the wood and pupate. Under certain conditions larvae may continue developing over a second or even a third summer but pupation always occurs in the autumn. The pupal stage is brief and adults are fully formed by the autumn but they overwinter in situ to emerge in the spring although specimens will occasionally emerge during warm spells or if host wood is brought inside and so there are records for most of the winter months. Adults are easily found by searching flowers or trunks etc., but they are easily alarmed and will quickly take flight or drop to the ground, when handled they often hiss or produce a squeaking sound and may produce a foul-smelling secretion.

Cerambyx scopolii 1

Cerambyx scopolii 1

Cerambyx scopolii 2

Cerambyx scopolii 2

Cerambyx scopolii 3

Cerambyx scopolii 3

Very variable in size, 17-28 mm, and entirely shiny black but with a variable fine silvery or creamy dorsal pubescence which can make specimens appear brown in the field. Head sloping forward to large and robust mandibles finely wrinkled and punctured between long temples and with a longitudinal impression before a roughly-sculptured vertex and frons, eyes narrow and curving around the antennal bases. Antennae much longer in males; basal antennomere broad and near parallel-sided, second segment small and transverse, and 3-11 very elongate. Pronotum transverse, lateral margin with a narrowed from a large median tooth to distinct angles and surface with strong and irregular transverse wrinkles. Elytra gently narrowed from rounded, almost angled, shoulders to separately-rounded apical margins, basal margin almost straight and surface strongly and irregularly wrinkled throughout, apical angles not toothed (cf. C. cerdo L., 1758). Legs long and finely pubescent, femora unarmed and tibiae with a single tiny apical spur. Tarsi pseudotetramerous and similar between the sexes although in series males will be seen to have slightly wider basal pro tarsal segments.