Magdalis armigera (Geoffroy, 1785)

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CURCULIONOIDEA Latreille, 1802

CURCULIONIDAE Latreille, 1802

MESOPTILIINAE Lacordaire, 1863

MAGDALIDINI Pascoe, 1870

MAGDALIS Germar, 1817

This locally common saproxylic species occurs throughout most of Europe from the Mediterranean to the south of Fennoscandia and the UK and extends east into Siberia, it is generally common across lowland Wales and southern England, although much less so in the West Country, and more sporadic and rare further north to the Scottish border. Adults are active from April until July; they are generally associated with common elm (Ulmus procera) and early in the season may be swept as they feed on freshly developing foliage, at this time they may also be found on apple foliage or at various blossoms but elm is the only known larval host. Typical habitats are wherever the host is common; woodland borders, hedgerows and parkland etc, and despite the loss of our larger elm trees the weevil remains locally common as it can breed in saplings before they become large enough to be destroyed by Dutch elm disease. Mating occurs early in the season after a period of feeding and females chew small holes into dead branches to lay batches of eggs beneath the bark. Larvae emerge and feed initially under the bark, producing patterns of galleries fanning out from the oviposition site, but through the summer they bore short wavy tunnels into the xylem which becomes soft and powdery, they are fully-grown by the autumn and most remain within the wood to pupate the following spring but a small number must pupate in the autumn as adults are occasionally recorded at this time. Nowadays adults tend to occur in small numbers on saplings in the spring but before the demise of our larger elms they could be found early in the year in large numbers packed tightly into parallel galleries in sections of fallen dead branches or low down in dead standing trunks, such occurrences were not unusual around west London when large healthy elms were common in the 1960s and early 1970s.

2.5-5.2mm. Recognized among our fauna by the strongly toothed front femora and the form of the pronotum; almost parallel-sided, only weakly curved laterally and with a series of teeth around the anterior angle. Entirely black or dark grey and glabrous; appearing dull due to strong microsculpture on the base of the head and pronotum and strong transversely rugose elytral sculpture. Head small and convex with eyes that follow the outline, frons and rostrum finely punctured throughout, rostrum curved in both sexes, shorter and dilated at the antennal insertions in the male, longer and parallel-sided in the female. Pronotum strongly and closely punctured throughout, lateral margin with a series of small teeth in the apical third and a single large tooth before the anterior angle. Elytra wider across the base than the width of the pronotum, with rounded shoulders and dilated towards separately-rounded apical margins, striae strongly impressed and punctured throughout, interstices distinctly wider than the striae, flat or weakly convex and at least in part strongly strigose. Front femora with a strong ventral tooth, middle and hind femora with a much smaller tooth below, all tibiae with a well-developed curved spur on the outer apical margin. Claws free, strongly curved and toothed at the base.

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