Micrelus ericae (Gyllenhal, 1813)
This species is locally common throughout western and central Europe to the far north of Fennoscandia, to the east it extends sporadically into Ukraine and Russia, and to the south into Algeria and Morocco. It is widespread and generally common in suitable habitats throughout the UK as far north as Orkney; it is present on most of the islands and locally common in Ireland. Adults are active over a long season from April until September and may occasionally be found earlier in the year, and typical habitats include heathland and moorland, dry grasslands, peatland and open birch and pine woods. They are oligophagous on various Ericaceae; heather (Calluna vulgaris (L.)), cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix L.), bell heather (E. cinerea L.) and, in western parts of Europe, Cornish heath (E. vagans L.). Mating pairs occur throughout the season and females oviposit in flowers where the larvae will feed on the ovules. Fully grown larvae leave the ovules during July and August and may be found within the flowers for a while before they drop to the ground to pupate within the soil. Fresh adults occur later in the summer and will go on to overwinter among litter or in the soil below host plants. Adults are easily sampled by sweeping host foliage but they can be difficult to see as they are small and remain still for some time in the net, looking like tiny seeds.
1.6-2.3mm. Body entirely black to dark grey or dark reddish-brown, often appearing yellowish in life due to picking up numerous pollen grains, legs, rostrum and antennae mostly orange. Head transverse with large convex eyes and short, slightly diverging temples, the surface with scattered long pale scales that extend onto the base of the rostrum. Rostrum narrow and parallel-sided with antennae inserted slightly behind the middle, scape narrow and gradually widened from the middle, funiculus 7-segmented. Pronotum transverse, smoothly rounded and narrowed laterally from rounded posterior angles to perpendicular anterior angles, surface convex with a small tooth either side on the disc, scales long and slender, mostly sparse but dense at the middle of the base. Elytra quadrate with broadly-rounded shoulders and gradually narrowed to a continuously curved apical margin, striae well-impressed and complete to the apex, interstices with dense small tubercles and a single row of erect elongate and truncate scales, the sutural interstice with dense broad white scales similar to those on the pronotal base, these may continue to the apex but are usually present only towards the base. Legs robust, with smooth femora and bifid claws. Males have a small tooth at the inner apical margin of the middle and hind tibiae, these are missing in the female and the front tibiae are simply rounded in both sexes.
Micrelus ericae 1
Micrelus ericae 2