Podabrus alpinus (Paykull, 1798)
This widespread western Palaearctic species is locally common but sporadic from lowland to mountain altitudes of about 2000m throughout Europe from the Pyrenees and northern Italy to the far north of Fennoscandia, to the east it extends through Asia Minor and Russia into Mongolia and Siberia and occurs as far north as the Kola Peninsula, in the UK it is generally common throughout England and Wales though absent from much of the west Country and East Anglia, and more local to the north of Scotland, in Ireland it is widespread but scarce and occurs mostly near the coast. Adults occur over a relatively short season from the middle of May until late July, they are generally associated with open mixed woodland and wooded parkland and are particularly attracted to pine; they are generally common in suitable lowland areas but throughout the European distribution they are more prevalent in wooded upland and mountain areas. Adults tend to rest among the lower foliage of shrubs and trees during the day, although they may often be found on umbel flowers in hot weather, and become active in the late afternoon and evening, at which time they disperse and may be netted in flight. Adults are facultative predators; they feed on soft-bodied insects but have also been observed feeding on pollen and flower parts. Little is known of the biology but larvae are thought to be predacious and develop among leaf-litter or moss etc (in common with other, better understood, members of the genus), overwinter and pupate in the soil in the spring.
11-15mm, very variable in size and colour but readily identified among our UK fauna by the form of the head and the pronotum. Pale specimens are almost entirely brownish-yellow but generally the head is dark across the base and pale anteriorly, the pronotum is darker on the disc and the elytra varies from very dark grey to entirely pale yellowish-brown, the antennae are darkened beyond a few pale basal segments and the legs are variable but often with darker tarsi. Head broadest across large and very convex eyes, temples long and converging to form a short neck, vertex coarsely punctured, frons and clypeus smooth; the anterior clypeal margin weakly curved, antennae inserted dorsally inside the anterior margin of the eyes, antennae long and slender with
Podabrus alpinus 1
Podabrus alpinus 2
Podabrus alpinus 3
all segments elongate; the second and third shorter than the others and about equal in length, terminal maxillary palpomere distinctly securiform. Pronotum curved laterally to rounded anterior angles and slightly protruding posterior angles, front margin straight and hind margin curved, disc and lateral margins smooth or only finely punctured, punctation otherwise variable but may be strong and (anteriorly) confluent, basal margin with deep and well-delimited fovea. Elytra impressed inside rounded shoulders, lateral margin straight but usually distorted as cuticle is soft, usually a little broader towards the oblique apices, especially in the female, without striae but usually with two or three weak longitudinal ridges from near the base to the apical third. Legs long and slender, the colour variable but usually (especially the front legs) at least in part pale, all femora narrow and without teeth or spines, tibiae long and almost straight; the front and middle tibiae with a tiny sharp spur at the inner apical angle but the hind tibiae without any obvious spurs. Tarsi 5-segmented; the basal segment longer than the others and the fourth strongly and deeply bilobed, the terminal segment long and curved and all claws deeply divided – a feature also seen in Rhagonycha which are otherwise abundantly different. The truncate anterior pronotal margin and long converging temples will identify this species.