Malvapion malvae (Fabricius, 1775)

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CURCULIONOIDEA Latreille, 1802

BRENTIDAE Billberg, 1820

APIONINAE Schönherr, 1823

APIONINI Schönherr, 1823

MALVAPIINA Alonso-Zarazaga, 1990

MALVAPION Hoffmann, Adolfe, 1958

The genus Malvapion contains two European species of which one, Malvapion malvae (Fabricius, 1775), occurs sporadically throughout the Palearctic region although only sparsely in northern areas. In the U.K malvae is locally common across southern England and Wales to the Humber and Anglesey. Host plants include various species of Malvaceae; Althaea Linn., Laverta Linn. and Malva Linn. Species. In South Herts the adults appear in mid or late March, depending on season and usually in small numbers, on Mallow in just about any situation. Numbers increase through April and by May they are usually abundant; tapping a plant over a sheet may produce dozens of adults which move slowly and can be readily identified.  Eggs are laid in the seed pods where the larvae feed on the developing seeds; each will consume a single seed. The pupal stage is brief, from a few days to two weeks. Adults are present throughout the spring and early summer and we have recorded them, after an absence in July and August, in early September. Local distribution depends upon that of the food plant and so they tend to be absent from well maintained areas. The small size and distinctive colouration should make this species obvious in the field.

1.8-2.5mm. Head and pronotum black. Elytra orange with broad, triangular black mark around scutellum although this often extends across the base, along the suture and the lateral margins. With dense light yellow pubescence above and below. Head slightly transverse, flat or weakly convex, densely and strongly punctured and microsculptured. Eyes large, prominent and coarsely faceted. Rostrum in male pubescent to apex, although this pubescence is often missing, and microsculptured towards base, as long as pronotum. In female a little longer and with pubescence to middle, without microsculpture. Antennae inserted near base, orange but variously darkened; club sometimes black. Pronotum transverse and broadest behind middle, front margin narrower than base. Basal border absent although a basal row of reflexed pubescence may appear as a border. Fovea small or absent. Densely and strongly punctured and with fine microsculpture. Scutellum curved triangular with two small carinae from base. Elytra oblong, broadest behind middle, at base much broader than pronotum. Striae well impressed; first abbreviated before scutellum, second to fifth continued to base. Intervals much broader than striae; flat, finely rugose and punctured. Legs orange, coxae black or nearly so, tarsi variously darkened; sometimes black. Tarsi relatively elongate. Male metatibiae with a small, inwardly pointing black spine at apex. Claws black, smooth, strongly curved and toothed at base. Wings fully developed.

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