Cleopus pulchellus (Herbst, 1795)
POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886
CURCULIONOIDEA Latreille, 1802
CURCULIONINAE Latreille, 1802
CIONINI Schönherr, 1825
CLEOPUS Dejean, 1821
This locally common species occurs across southern and central Europe from France to Hungary and Latvia, extending north to the UK southern provinces of Fennoscandia and south to Mediterranean North Africa and Madeira. Here it is widespread and locally common across Wales and England north to Nottingham and more scattered and rare north to the Scottish border, it has been recorded from the Isle of Man and there are several records from the western Scottish Highlands. Adults are active over a long season, from February until October or November, and might occur wherever the hosts are common, in open woodland and on wooded borders, wetland margins and in ruderal areas such as wasteland, roadsides, agricultural borders, parks and gardens, and although they are very local they tend to occur in large numbers on single plants or small groups of plants. Hosts are usually Scrophularia nodosa L. (common figwort), S. auriculata L. (water figwort) but they also occur on various species of Verbascum L., especially V. thapsus L. (common mullein) and, on the continent, have been recorded from Limosella aquatica L. (water mudwort). Mating occurs early in the season and oviposition begins in May and continues through the spring and summer; eggs are laid in groups of two or three on the underside of leaves or within the leaf axils and larvae feed mostly under leaves but also on freshly developing stems, buds and flowers. Larvae are covered in a slimy secretion which gives them the appearance of a small pale prey or yellow slug, they develop quickly and pupate in a small cocoon on the leaf surface, usually among extensive feeding signs, and adults emerge soon afterwards. New-generation adults emerge from early summer and will produce a second generation before overwintering in the soil. Adults are easily sampled by sweeping or beating host material but they can be very selective; on dozens of figwort plants swept along the Grand Union Canal at Watford during 2010 only one hosted the weevils, and then in large numbers, but they were beaten from Fagus in nearby woodland a few weeks later.
2.8-3.0mm. Similar in general appearance to species of Cionus but distinguished by the more elongate form; the elytra at least 1.3X longer than broad (at most 1.1X in Cionus), and the elytral pattern which is tessellated, as in Cionus, but has an irregular, mostly rather transverse, dark macula behind the middle, doubtful specimens can be confirmed by the form of the anterior prosternal margin, in the present species it is straight while in Cionus it is emarginate. The dorsal scales are black and white but the overall colour is a dull reddish-brown due to the underlying cuticle which is usually extensively visible. Head, including the rostrum, and pronotum with pale recumbent scales, elytra interstices 1-3, 5 and 7 with alternate patches of pale and dark scales, 4 and 6 usually with pale scales only, area around the suture towards the base, a transverse macula behind the middle and a well-defined preapical patch, black or dark grey. Appendages brown, the legs with extensive pale scales. Funiculus 5-segmented. All femora with a strong and sharp ventral tooth. Male claws unequal; the inner shorter than the outer, female claws equal.