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Podagrica Dejean, 1836





POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CHRYSOMELIDAE Latreille, 1802

ALTICINAE Newman, 1834

P. fuscicornis (Linnaeus, 1767)

P. fuscipes (Fabricius, 1775)

Podagrica fuscicornis (Linnaeus, 1767)

This western Palaearctic species is generally common throughout Europe from Portugal to Greece and north to Denmark and the UK although it is absent from most of the Baltic countries and Fennoscandia, to the east it extends as far as the Caspian Sea and it is widespread across North Africa and most of the Mediterranean and Canary Islands, it is mostly a lowland species but has been recorded up to 1200 m in Europe. In the UK it is locally common in southeast England and East Anglia but otherwise very local and scarce with rather isolated records scattered across England and southern Wales. Adults are active from May until September or October, peaking in abundance during July and August, they are associated with various mallows and might occur wherever they are common, generally in rather open and dry habitats and often on disturbed sites such as gardens and verges, but they are also frequently common among dune and salt marsh vegetation on the coast. Host plants include various species of Malva L. such as Common Mallow (M. sylvestris L.) and Musk Mallow (M. moschata L.) as well as other members of the family; Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis L.), Common Hollyhock (Alcea rosea L.) and tree mallows (Lavatera cretica L. and L. thuringiaca L.), adults feed on foliage and new shoots, causing numerous small holes, while larvae feed on the roots. Mating occurs early in the season and females oviposit from late June until August or September, they lay small batches of eggs on the upper and lower surfaces of leaves or on stems close to the ground and larvae emerge within a week or two. Larvae develop through the summer, feeding within or externally upon roots, and move deeper into the ground during the autumn where they will overwinter. Larvae move up through the soil and resume feeding in the spring, they are fully-grown by March or April when they pupate in an earthen cell among the roots, and adults eclose after about two weeks. The species is probably univoltine in the UK although fully-developed larvae are sometimes present in the autumn, but in southern Europe and North Africa there may be several generations each year. Adults may be sampled by sweeping or beating suitable host foliage but they hop powerfully when disturbed and quickly vanish (although they are wingless), they are much easier to find at night when they  seem to be very reluctant to hop when illuminated by torchlight, they usually occur in small numbers and their presence is sometimes indicated by feeding signs.

Podagrica fuscicornis 1

Podagrica fuscicornis 1

Podagrica fuscipes

Podagrica fuscipes

Podagrica fuscicornis 2

Podagrica fuscicornis 2

3.0-5.5 mm. Broadly-oval and moderately strongly convex, very distinctive due to the general appearance and especially so when associated with mallows. Head, pronotum, legs and antennal bases unmetallic orange, elytra metallic blue to green. Head with convex and prominent eyes and converging and almost straight temples, surface weakly convex and extremely finely-punctured , frontal tubercles weakly impressed. Antennae long and slender, gradually and only weakly thickened from the sixth segment. Pronotum widely transverse, broadest about the middle and sinuate before slightly projecting posterior angles, surface finely and sparsely punctured and distinct latero-basal fovea which are not joined by a transverse impression. Elytra smoothly curved from rounded shoulders to a continuous apical margin, randomly punctured throughout although there may be partially complete longitudinal rows, the punctures are variable but in most the elytra are more strongly punctured than the pronotum, evenly convex and usually depressed behind the shoulders and sometimes also along the suture. . Hind femora greatly enlarged, tibiae only weakly broadened from the base, without external teeth, and each with a tiny apical spur. Claws with a distinct basal tooth.  The sexes differ only slightly in shape but in series females will be seen to have longer elytra which are a little broader across the base. Males have longer and more robust antennae, and usually the external apical angle of all tibiae are distinctly more produced when compared with females.

Podagrica fuscipes (Fabricius, 1775)

This Western Palaearctic species occurs locally across Western and Central Europe, it also recorded from Algeria and Corsica but is otherwise absent from the Mediterranean islands; is continuously distributed from Portugal to Italy, Austria and Germany, to the north it reaches Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK but is absent from Denmark and the Baltic countries, it is mostly a lowland species although there are records up to 1400 m. from Spain. In the UK it is locally common along the Sussex and Kent coasts and the Thames valley, there are a few more widespread and sporadic records from the West Country, South Wales and East Anglia and there are much older records from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Typical habitats are saltmarshes, dunes, cliffs, scrub and grassland and it often occurs beside still or slow moving water beside canals, rivers and drainage ditches. Host plants include various Malvaceae; usually Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris L.) but also Musk-Mallow (M. moschata L.), Marsh-Mallow (Althaea officinalis L.), less often Tree-Mallow (M. arborea (L.) and Hollyhock (Alcea rosea L.), and in Europe Greater Musk-Mallow (M. alcea L.). Adults are active over a long season from March until September or October and peak in abundance during May and June and again later in the summer, they are flightless and almost always occur on the host plants. Adults emerge from overwintered larvae in early spring and feed on host foliage before mating begins, females oviposit during spring and early summer to produce a new-generation from July which will persist into the autumn but will not overwinter, instead larvae from this generation will overwinter and complete their development in the spring to produce the next generation from March or April. Eggs are laid singly or in small batches on host stems near the soil surface and larvae are thought to feed within roots or low down in stems during the spring and summer and to pupate in a subterranean cell. Adults may be detected by looking for the small holes they produce in host foliage when feeding, they are then easily spotted on stems and leaves but not so easily taken for examination as they are easily startled and jump powerfully.

3.5-4.2 mm. Broadly-oval and discontinuous in outline, head and pronotum unmetallic orange, elytra dark metallic grey, blue or bluish-green, maxillary palpi dark brown or black, antennae dark from four pale basal segments, legs extensively black or dark brown. Head evenly convex and finely punctured behind convex and protruding eyes, frons with weak but distinct oblique impressions from the posterior margin of the eyes to just above the antennal insertions, antennae 11-segmented and gradually and only weakly widened towards the apex. Pronotum transverse, broadest at or just in front of the middle and slightly sinuate before sharp and almost perpendicular posterior angles, surface finely punctured throughout, latero-basal impressions strong and distinct but not joined by a transverse impression, lateral margins bordered but without a furrow towards the base. Elytra gently curved from sloping shoulders to a continuous apical margin, distinctly and usually strongly impressed either side at the base and with striae that are strongly punctured in the basal half but fade to the apex, these are often irregular of even confused on the disc and sometimes mixed with scattered larger punctures in the interstices. Hind femora greatly enlarged, all femora without a ventral tooth, tibiae smooth externally and with a single small apical spur, tarsi pseudotetramerous.

Superficially similar to our other species, P. fuscicornis (Linnaeus, 1766) but here the legs and palps are pale, the pronotum has fine but distinct furrows before the posterior angles and the elytra are entirely finely and randomly punctured.

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