Meloe cicatricosus Leach, 1815

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

TENEBRIONOIDEA Latreille, 1802

MELOIDAE Gyllenhal, 1810

MELOINAE Gyllenhal, 1810

MELOINI Gyllenhal, 1810

Meloe Linnaeus, 1758

This widespread Palaearctic species occurs throughout much of southern and central Europe from Spain to Greece and north to Germany and Poland, it is otherwise absent from the Baltic countries and is thought to have declined generally during the 20th century. It is often common in warmer southern regions but generally very local and rare in the north It was last recorded in the UK from Margate in Kent in 1906 and is now thought to be long extinct there. Typical habitats are dry grassland slopes with plenty of herbaceous vegetation and wild flowers, usually on lighter soils which are exposed to the sun, and usually in lowland regions. Adults appear in the spring, usually in numbers but only in small areas, in central Europe they are often seen on undisturbed wasteland, road verges and railway embankments while in the south they are often common on coastal grassland, pasture and well-vegetated dunes. The lifestyle is typical of the genus with adults mating after a period of gorging themselves on low vegetation soon after emerging in the spring. Females scrape a series of depressions in the soil in which they lay large batches of eggs, these are carefully covered and larvae emerge en masse after about two weeks. First stage larvae, triungulins, climb plants in large numbers and assemble around flowers where they will cling on to visiting insects. At this stage larval mortality is high as many will attach to inappropriate bees and flies etc. Those that attach to the right hosts-various solitary bees of the genus Anthophora Latreille, 1803-and manage to find their way back to the nest will leave the bee and feed on detritus before entering a brood cell and transforming into an immobile stage that will consume the contents of the cell, including its occupant egg or larva, and move on to further cells until they are fully grown. Pupation occurs in the cells and adults emerge the following spring. Adults occur from March until June or July although in warmer southern regions they may become active from February, and mating occurs throughout the season.

Meloe cicatricosus

Meloe cicatricosus

16-45 mm. Body and appendages black, usually with a blue refection, terminal antennomeres always dull black. Head transverse and wider than the pronotum, strongly rounded laterally and  almost straight across the base, surface evenly convex and strongly and densely punctured, confluently so in places, without impressions behind the eyes. Antennae without modified segments. Pronotum transverse, broadest across obtuse anterior angles and narrowed in a more-or-less straight line to rounded posterior angles. Pronotal surface flat but for a weak indentation at the anterior angles and a median longitudinal impression that is deep towards the base and extends to the middle, basal margin indented medially. Elytra overlapping from the base then widely divergent, surface with numerous small, flat and shiny elevations.  Legs long and robust; all femora about equal in size and all tibiae broadened from the base, front tibiae with a small and curved apical spur, middle and hind tibiae with much larger spurs. Tarsi 5-5-4 in both sexes.