Ophonus puncticeps Stephens, 1828

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ADEPHAGA Clairville, 1806

CARABIDAE Latreille, 1802

HARPALINAE Bonelli, 1810

HARPALINI Bonelli, 1810 

Ophonus Dejean, 1821

This Western Palaearctic species has a rather disjuct distribution; it is locally common from Spain to the Balkans, Asia Minor and Syria to the south and extends north into the UK, Denmark and Southern Sweden although it is otherwise absent from Fennoscandia and much of north eastern Europe. The eastern limit of the distribution is the Caspian Sea and parts of north western Russia although there are records from eastern Siberia but these may refer to another species. It was first recorded in North America in 1954, no doubt from European imports, and since that time has become established and widespread in the north east. In the UK it is generally common across England below the Wash and very local and scarce further north to Cumbria, it is mostly coastal in Wales, occurs on all the islands and there are a very few records from Ireland. After O. rufibarbis (Fabricius, 1792) this is our most frequently recorded member of the genus. This is mostly a lowland species, occurring up to about 1000 m in Europe. Adults occur year-round although they are rarely encountered during the winter; they are active from April until October and peak in abundance during late summer. Typical habitats are open grassland with abundant herbaceous vegetation on light chalky or sandy soils but the species also displays a preference for recently disturbed sites such as roadsides, gardens and waste ground. Reproduction occurs mainly in the autumn although copulation has also been observed in the spring, and larvae develop through the winter and spring to produce fresh adults during April and May. Adults may overwinter and survive through a second summer but it is thought that reproduction occurs only during the year in which they eclose. Both adults and larvae are seed-feeders. Larvae excavate subterranean chambers which they provision with seeds on which they feed during the winter and in which they will pupate in the spring. They probably consume a range of seeds but the main food seems to be those of various umbels, and in particular those of wild carrot, Daucus carota L. Adults are mainly diurnal but they fly during the evening and at night and are often attracted to light traps in numbers. They will sometimes occur when sweeping umbels that are finished flowering and are developing seeds, and they often spend the day inside fruit clusters, at night they may be found on stems or on the ground and during the winter they have been found in grass tussocks and among matted vegetation and roots.

Ophonus puncticeps 1

Ophonus puncticeps 1

Ophonus puncticeps 2

Ophonus puncticeps 2

Ophonus puncticeps 3

Ophonus puncticeps 3

6.5-9.0 mm. A rather narrow species with a large head and cordate pronotum which is distinctly narrower across the base than the base of the elytra. Body finely punctured and pubescent throughout, colour variable from pale brown to almost black, often with the forebody paler than the elytra but always lacking a metallic reflection, appendages pale brown. Head broadest across convex and protruding eyes, more finely and sparsely punctured than the pronotum and with a single setiferous puncture beside each eye, Pronotum transverse but narrow, less than 1.3X wider than long, broadest in front of the middle, smoothly curved to obtuse anterior angles and sinuate before near-perpendicular posterior angles which are level with the fifth or sixth elytral striae. Lateral margin with a single long seta about the middle and basal margin very finely bordered. Pronotal surface evenly and moderately strongly punctured throughout and with wide and long basal fovea. Elytra weakly curved or near parallel-sided from sloping and minutely-toothed shoulders to a continuous apical margin, striae well-impressed but not punctured and interstices finely punctured throughout; the wider interstices with three or four rows. Legs long and robust, all tibiae with well-developed apical spurs which are only slightly shorter than the corresponding basal tarsomere. Claws smooth. Male front tarsi dilated. The species may usually be identified by the lack of a metallic reflection, the shape of the pronotum, and the form of the elytra; sloping and toothed shoulders and unpunctured striae. In doubtful cases the aedeagus is diagnostic: slender, in lateral view finely serrated dorsally towards a slightly dilated apex.