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Phalacrus caricis Sturm, 1807





POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CUCUJOIDEA Latreille, 1802


Phalacrus Paykull, 1800

Widely referred to in European literature as P. nigrinus (Stephens, 1829), this mostly lowland species is widespread throughout central and northern Europe but mostly very local and only sporadically common, it extends from France through Russia and Asia Minor to Siberia; it is present in northern Italy and Bosnia and Herzegovina but otherwise absent from the Balkans and several Mediterranean countries, to the north it occurs in the Baltic countries as far as the central provinces of Sweden and Finland but is absent from most of Norway. In the UK it is sporadic and very local across England north to Yorkshire, though generally absent from the West Country and in Wales known mostly from the south coast. Adults occur year-round and active over a long season from March or April until September, peaking in abundance from May until July; they overwinter in stems or under bark etc. and appear as soon as the temperature increases. Typical habitats are wetland margins, peat bogs and damp meadows where both adults and larvae occur on flowers of various sedges and other grasses infested with smut fungus, adults are diurnal and fly readily and may also be found on various dicotyledonous flowers where they consume pollen, they tend to occur in large numbers over a wide area. Eggs are laid into the flowers of infected sedges and grasses during May and June and larvae emerge after a few days, they feed on the spores of a range of smut fungi (various Ustilaginales have been recorded) for up to a month and then fall to the ground where they burrow and form a silk-lined earthen chamber in which they will pupate. Adults emerge after about two weeks and become active, there is therefore overlap in the generations and adults are present through the summer, the new-generation appearing from July. So far as is known the species is univoltine throughout its range.

Phalacrus caricis 1

Phalacrus caricis 1

Phalacrus caricis 2

Phalacrus caricis 2

1.6-2.5 mm. Readily recognized as a phalacrid but more elongate and less convex than our other members of the genus. Entirely black, or with red elytra (var. delabyi Guillebeau, 1892), and dark brown appendages, most specimens are less shiny than other species due to the fine reticulate microsculpture on the pronotum and elytra. Head widely transverse with small convex eyes and long converging temples that are usually retracted into the thorax, surface evenly convex and minutely uneven, the microsculpture less evident than on the pronotum. Antennae 11-segmented with a loose 3-segmented club, segments 2-7 progressively less elongate, the seventh quadrate and the terminal segment moderately elongate, about 7:10. Pronotum broadest  by rounded posterior angles and curved to a widely-obtuse anterior angles, apical margin weakly curved, basal margin bisinuate and finely bordered medially, surface slightly uneven, especially towards the base, finely punctured and with very fine microsculpture (X50). Scutellum large, triangular and punctured as the pronotum. Elytra continuous in outline with the pronotum, with rounded shoulders and a continuously rounded apical margin, basal margin complete and angled around the scutellum to the suture, with a well-impressed sutural stria in the apical half or third and often with weakly impressed and incomplete longitudinal lines and rows of stronger (at least stronger than those on the pronotum) punctures which may give the impression of weak striae, between these larger punctures the surface is micropunctured and sculptured as the pronotum. Legs short and robust, the femora not visible in normal setting, tibiae broadened from the base to truncate apices; the front tibiae with a pair of short spines at the outer apical angle, these might need to be looked for carefully among a few finer dark setae, tarsi 5-segmented but appearing 4-segmented as the tiny fourth segment is difficult to see between the lobes of the third segment, all claws with a distinct basal tooth.

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