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Onthophilus punctatus (Muller, O.F., 1776)






POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

HYDROPHILOIDEA Latreille, 1802

HISTERIDAE Gyllenhal, 1808


Onthophilus Leach, 1817

This species occurs locally across central and southern Europe from Spain to Greece and Ukraine and north to Denmark and the UK, it is very local and rare in Poland but otherwise absent from the Baltic countries, it is known from the larger Mediterranean islands, North Africa and Asia Minor and extends east into Asia although the eastern limit of the distribution is not known. The nominate subspecies occurs throughout the European range while ssp. cicatricosus Reitter, 1884 occurs in the south from Italy to Greece and Turkey, and ssp. caucasicus Reitter, 1890 is restricted to Ukraine and parts of South European Russia. The species has declined in the UK over recent decades and this seems to be ongoing; it was formerly widespread in the south from Hampshire to the Wash but it is now very local and known mostly from South Hampshire and East Anglia. In central and northern Europe the majority of records are from mammal nests, especially Mole (Talpa europaea L.) but frequently from Fox (Vulpes vulpes (L.)), Badger (Meles meles L.) and others, and in the UK most recorded are from Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus (l.)) and Mole burrows. More generally the species has been recorded from a wide range of habitats, usually in open situations on light and free draining soils such as heathland, brecklands, dunes and common; adults have been recorded from dung and carrion, under stones and matted decaying vegetation, among compost and potato mounds, in decaying old trees and fungi, and in mixed straw and dung. In Turkey the species has been taken at a decaying pig carcass and from traps baited with decaying eggs and melons. Adults occur throughout the year and are active in all but the coldest winter periods, they peak in abundance during the spring and again late autumn and early winter and are only occasionally recorded during July and August. Little is known of the biology but both adults and larvae are probably predatory, feeding on small insects and larvae etc., and from the phenology it is likely that larvae develop through the summer. Adults are mostly crepuscular and nocturnal, they occur on the ground and can run fast but no doubt disperse by flight, and they may be sampled by sieving suitable material or by pitfall trapping at any time.

Onthophilus punctatus

Onthophilus punctatus

© Lech Borowiec

2.5-3.5 mm. Readily distinguished among our UK fauna by the habitus and strong longitudinal sculpture to the pronotum and elytra. Broadly-oval and discontinuous in outline with the base of the elytra much broader than the pronotal base, entirely dark shiny grey, appearing somewhat metallic in some lights, appendages dark, as the body or a little paler. Head broadest across widely-transverse and almost flat eyes, surface uneven and moderately strongly punctured throughout and antennae inserted at the base of a deep scrobe along the inner margin of the eyes. Antennae 11-segmented, the basal segment long, curved and evenly expanded from the base and 9-11 form a compact and elongate club. Pronotum transverse, widest across sharp posterior angles and evenly curved and narrowed to slightly protruding anterior angles, apical margin curved, and basal margin sinuate and strongly produced medially. Pronotal surface with six longitudinal keels, the inner pair close together and interrupted on the disc, and the outer two extending from the base to about the middle, otherwise closely and rather strongly punctured throughout. Elytra broadest in the basal third, behind rounded shoulders, and evenly curved to a truncate apical margin which substantially covers the abdomen, each with three strongly-raised (2, 4 and 6) interstices, between these with series of much weaker ridges that are interrupted by strong punctures. Legs long and slender; femora narrow and unarmed, and tibiae finely dentate externally and obliquely truncate apically. Tarsi 5-segmented with all segments simple.

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