Kissophagus vicinus (Comoli, 1837)

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CURCULIONOIDEA Latreille, 1802

CURCULIONIDAE Latreille, 1802

SCOLYTINAE Latreille, 1804

HYLESININI Erichson, 1836

Kissophagus Chapuis, 1869

More widely known in the literature as Kissophagus hederae (Schmitt, 1843), this is a mostly western and central European species that extends north to Germany, Poland and the UK but is absent from Scandinavia and the Baltic countries, it occurs along the northern Mediterranean region and on many of the islands and to the east it is known from Ukraine, Greece and Turkey but is generally absent from the Balkans, through most of this range it is very local and rare and is likely to be in decline, beyond this it has been widely but sporadically recorded from Algeria to Japan although these probably represent accidental introductions.  Here it is very local and sporadic across England north to the Wash and in south Wales around the Severn estuary, typical habitats are old established deciduous woodland with extensive ivy in various stages of growth and decay. Adults occur from May or June until September or October although on the continent they have been recorded as early as February, they are monophagous and occur beneath bark on dead and dying stems and trunks of old ivy, they disperse by flight and occur in interception traps on warm summer evenings and also visit ivy flowers in the autumn to feed on nectar although they usually occur only in small numbers. Breeding occurs in the spring and females bore short transverse linear or bifurcate egg chambers under bark on ivy trunks or thicker branches in which they lay a small number of eggs.  Larvae mine short irregular linear galleries up to 2 cm long parallel to the grain in the cambium layer of main stems or thicker branches, they either pupate in the autumn to produce adults that will overwinter or they may overwinter and complete their development in the spring and pupate during April or May, so most adults will appear mostly from late April but those that have overwintered may appear much earlier. Adults emerging in the autumn will not breed until the following spring and so far as is known the species if univoltine throughout its range.

Kissophagus vicinus 1

Kissophagus vicinus 1

Kissophagus vicinus 2

Kissophagus vicinus 2

© U.Schmidt

Adults are small and rather nondescript but nonetheless distinctive among our fauna due to the densely squamose dorsal surface and 6-segmented antennal funiculus, and they are readily identified when associated with ivy. 1.9-2.4mm. Elongate and cylindrical with elytra slightly wider across the base than the pronotum, entirely dark brown or with the head darker and the anterior pronotal margin lighter, head with fine yellow pubescence, pronotum with dense pale elongate scales that diverge from the disc, elytra with small recumbent scales and rows of longer sub-erect scales that are plainly visible from above. Appendages darker brown. Head convex with elongate and weakly emarginate eyes, the frons dimorphic; weakly convex and with a short median line in the female, more strongly convex and with a longer median line in the male. Antennae inserted laterally in front of the eyes, the scape long and strongly curved, funiculus 6-segmented and the club flattened and conical with two obvious sutures. Pronotum quadrate to slightly elongate, broadest near the base and narrowed to a curved anterior margin, posterior angles rounded and the basal margin bisinuate. Elytra with rounded shoulders and slightly dilated towards a continuously rounded apical margin, striae strongly punctured and interstices granulate although this is often obscured by the dense scales. All tibiae gradually broadened from the base and with several strong teeth in the apical half or third, and the third segment of all tarsi strongly bilobed.