Ocypus brunnipes (Fabricius, 1781)
This Western Palaearctic species occurs throughout most of Europe from the Mediterranean. Including many of the islands, north to the UK and the Baltic countries where it reaches into southern provinces of Fennoscandia, to the east it extends into parts of Western Russia, Turkey and the Caucasus, it is locally common in northern and eastern parts of this range but otherwise very local and generally scarce. Accidentally introduced into North America during the 1960s, the species is now established, although very seldom recorded, in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In the UK it occurs throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; it is generally common and among the more frequently recorded members of the genus across Central and South Eastern England and Wales, but otherwise very local and sporadic. The species is widely eurytopic, occurring on a range of soils in both dry and damp habitats; adults occur on grassland, agricultural land, woodland and parkland, and they are sometimes common on disturbed areas such as gardens, road verges or wasteland etc. Adults are present year-round; they overwinter in tussocks or under debris etc and are active from March until October, peaking in abundance from July to August. Both adults and larvae are predatory, and breeding is thought to occur during the summer as larvae have been found to be active through the winter. Adults are nocturnal, they spend the day under debris or in moss etc, and hunt on the ground at night, they do not fly but can run rapidly and cover a wide area in a single evening. Searching pathways or patches of bare ground by night is the best way to find adults although they usually occur as single specimens, pairs sometimes occur under debris during the day but they seem never to occur in numbers. During the winter we have found them to be common among leaf-litter in furrows on agricultural margins, they also appear among flood refuse from open grassland, and on one occasion during December we found a single adult among damp reed-litter.
Ocypus brunnipes 1
Ocypus brunnipes 2
12-16 mm. Large, broad and rather parallel-sided, forebody shiny black, elytra and abdomen matt black; the elytra sometimes with a faint metallic blue lustre, palps and legs red, antennae black with at least the basal segment and up to three apical segments red. Head transverse and narrower than the pronotum, with large and weakly convex eyes and rounded temples, surface moderately densely punctured and with scattered micro-punctures, pubescence sparse and semi-erect, mostly smooth but often with granular microsculpture towards the margins or the base. Mandibles distinctly toothed internally. Antennae inserted anteriorly inside the outer margins of the mandibles; 11-segmented and filiform with segments 1-9 elongate. Pronotum quadrate, parallel-sided or weakly curved and narrowed towards obtuse anterior angles, basal margin rounded, surface evenly convex with a smooth and unpunctured longitudinal median strip, otherwise rather densely but discretely punctured and with much less numerous and scattered micropunctures, linear microsculpture often visible towards the sides and base. Elytra transverse and shorter than the pronotum, dilated from sloping shoulders to slightly recurved apical margins, surface without striae; dull due to dense punctures and random microsculpture. Abdomen long and dilated about the middle, tergites strongly bordered but not impressed across the base, surface densely punctured and microsculptured except for the apical tergites which are smoother and less densely punctured. Legs long and robust. Femora unarmed, front tibiae almost smooth externally, middle tibiae with several rows of strong spines, hind tibiae externally with a single row of small dark spines towards the apex, middle and hind tibiae with long apical spurs. Tarsi 5-segmented, basal segments of front tarsi dilated in both sexes, middle and hind tibiae simple. Aedeagus long, twisted and pointed apically, paramere strongly asymmetric.