Malthodes minimus (Linnaeus, 1758)
POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886
ELATEROIDEA Leach, 1815
MALTHININAE Kiesenwetter, 1852
MALTHININI Kiesenwetter, 1852
Malthodes Kiesenwetter, 1852
This is generally the most common of the 190 European species of the genus, it has a sporadic distribution from France to western Russia, extending south to northern regions of Italy, Yugoslavia and Romania, and north to the UK and southern provinces of Sweden but is otherwise absent from Fennoscandia and the Baltic countries and the much of the Balkan peninsula. Here it is generally common and often abundant throughout England and Wales, including the Isle of Wight and Anglesey but not Man, and very local and generally scarce through the Scottish Highlands. Adults are active from April until July with a few persisting into August, they occur in open woodland, scrubland and wooded parkland, particularly in chalk and limestone areas, but for a few weeks in late May and June they may be very abundant and appear on hawthorn blossom or umbels in almost any situation. They are primarily diurnal but are also crepuscular as we have often found them in light traps and active at night on tree trunks in our local park. Adults are predaceous and hunt aphids etc. among foliage and grass but they also appear to consume pollen, they are readily sampled by beating or sweeping foliage and flowers and they will generally appear in numbers; mating pairs are often seen early in the season and these should be sampled as it makes identification easier. Larvae are also predaceous and probably develop among decaying wood in various broadleaf trees (in common with other members of the genus), although in Austria numerous adults were reared from larvae taken from a mole’s nest, they very probably overwinter and pupate in the spring.
2.5-3.5mm although females with distended abdomens may be longer. Head black or slightly paler anteriorly, pronotum very variable but usually at least with the anterior angles pale, often entirely pale or only obscurely darkened on the disc, elytra dark grey or black with the apices bright yellow, femora extensively dark, tibiae and tarsi usually mostly pale. Head with prominent eyes (more so in the male) and long curved temples, the surface evenly convex and very finely punctured and pubescent, mandibles long, sharp and smooth internally, palps yellow with the terminal segment darker, antennae long and filiform with all segments elongate; the second a little shorter than the third, dark grey with two basal segments contrastingly pale. Pronotum transverse, widest at obtuse anterior angles and narrowed to a sub-basal constriction, apical and basal margin curved and finely bordered, lateral border incomplete; usually well-developed behind the anterior angles, surface finely punctured and pubescent throughout. Elytra short with separately rounded apical margins which leave parts of the wings and abdomen exposed, surface without striae, transversely rugose and finely punctured and pubescent throughout. Legs long and slender, femora unarmed and tibiae without obvious apical spurs, fourth segment of all tarsi deeply bilobed and all claws with a weak tooth towards the base.