Epuraea aestiva (Linnaeus, 1758)

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CUCUJOIDEA Latreille, 1802

NITIDULIDAE Latreille, 1802

EPURAEINAE Kirejtshuk, 1986

Epuraea Erichson, 1843

This is the most widespread and generally common member of the genus; it is Holarctic in distribution and extends above the Arctic Circle in both the Old and New Worlds, it is abundant throughout Europe and Asia Minor and occurs sporadically on the Mediterranean and Atlantic islands but is absent from North Africa. Here it is abundant cross England and Wales though less so in the West Country and the north, and there are scattered records throughout Scotland, including the Western Isles, and in Northern Ireland. Adults are present year-round although they tend to disappear during the summer, they are said to overwinter exclusively in subterranean mammal nests and in the UK they have been recorded from Mole nests while in Europe from those of Mole, Marmot and Hamster. The usual habitats are scrub, woodland and wooded parkland and grassland but they are very common early in the year and might also be expected from gardens and other disturbed areas, this is typical of the UK but in northern Europe they can also be abundant in extensive Pine and Birch woodland. Larvae are unusual, although not unique as several other members of the genus  e.g. E. melina Erichson, 1843 share this lifestyle, as they develop in spring and early summer in subterranean insect nests, especially those of bumblebees, and they are thought to detritivores. Adults become active very early in the year and often appear on the first Sloe blossom (Prunus spinosa L.) in February before other shrubs and trees come into leaf, they soon become common and will be found on a range of herbaceous and woody plants as they come into flower but large numbers usually occur on fresh Hawthorn foliage during April, just before the blossom appears. Adults peak in abundance During May and June and at this time large numbers, including many mating pairs, will be found on flowers anywhere but particularly on Hawthorn blossom.  New generation adults appear in early summer, they do not breed but may remain active into late summer or aestivate during the warmest months and reappear later before they enter the ground to overwinter. Sampling is easiest by beating or sweeping flowers and blossom but adults are likely to occur regularly when working grassland and hedgerows etc and they frequently occur in numbers in flight-interception traps.

Epuraea aestiva 1

Epuraea aestiva 1

Epuraea aestiva 2

Epuraea aestiva 2

2.1-3.8mm. Broadly-oval, convex and discontinuous in outline, densely punctured and finely pubescent throughout, entirely pale brown but for the partially darker antennal club and sometimes obscure darker markings on the elytra. Head transverse with prominent convex eyes and strongly converging temples and cheeks, clypeus extended between the antennal insertions and labrum free and articulated. Antennae 11-segmented and inserted laterally in front of the eyes, basal segment long and expanded internally, 2-5 elongate, 6-8 short and progressively transverse and 9-11 form a large and abrupt club; the terminal segment as wide as, or nearly as wide as, the penultimate and both wider than the ninth segment. Pronotum widely transverse, broadest towards the base and evenly rounded to obtuse posterior angles and protruding, perpendicular or obtuse posterior angles, surface evenly convex to explanate lateral margins that broaden to the base, punctures dense throughout; on the disc each broader than the distance between them. Scutellum large, triangular and punctured and pubescent as the surrounding cuticle. Meso-coxae closely approximated, almost touching, metasternum smooth, without a central longitudinal impression. Elytra broadest behind rounded shoulders and gradually narrowed to separately-rounded apical margins, smoothly convex, although there is often a weakly-developed humeral prominence, and without striae, explanate margin narrow throughout and usually obsolete apically. All tibiae slender and evenly widened from the base to a truncate apex, the front tibiae about the same width as the others. Tarsi 5-segmented; basal segments short and bilobed, terminal segment long and curved. Claws smooth and lacking a distinct basal tooth. This is our most common species and will soon become obvious in the field; the broad and convex form, separately curved pronotum and elytra, large antennal club and narrow tibiae are distinctive. The meso-coxae and metasternum can be examined in the field with a lens to confirm the identity.