Poecilus kugelanni (Panzer, 1797)

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ADEPHAGA Clairville, 1806

CARABIDAE Latreille, 1802

PTEROSTICHINAE Bonelli, 1810

PTEROSTICHINI Bonelli, 1810

Poecilus Bonelli, 1810

Widespread across Western and Southern Europe but generally very local and scarce; it has suffered a general and drastic decline over recent decades and is now red-listed as extinct or highly endangered in much of Germany and in Switzerland and it is known mostly from older records in Belgium and the Netherlands, there is a single record from Denmark and, with the exception of Poland, it is absent from the Baltic countries. In France it is widespread and locally common, especially in upland and lower mountain areas, and to the south it extends from Portugal to Ukraine. In the UK it has suffered a similar decline; during the 20th Century it was known from 25 sites but in the 21st Century it persists in only 15 sites in the New Forest, Norfolk, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, it is presently classified as Nationally Rare, Endangered and Near Threatened (Red List pre 1994 and post 2001). Here the typical habitat is old-established lowland heath with patchy vegetation or areas of exposed sandy soil, and always exposed to the sun, in Europe it occurs in dry grassland on sandy or gravelly soils or on calcareous hillsides with patchy vegetation; in the north it is restricted to sunny hillsides while in France it occurs more generally, on heaths, dry fields and woodland margins from lowlands to about 1500 m. Adults are present year-round, they overwinter in the soil or among moss and litter and are active from March until September, peaking in abundance during May (later on the continent). They are diurnal and usually active in warm sunny weather, otherwise remaining hidden among litter or under debris, they can move rapidly on the surface as they hunt for prey and can be very adept at escaping capture, they are usually fully-winged but flight has not been observed. Reproduction occurs in the spring and females lay groups of up to ten eggs in the soil. Larvae emerge after about ten days and predate small insects etc. during the spring and summer before they enter the soil to overwinter; they continue developing and pupate during the following spring to produce new-generation adults from April or May. Larvae have been quoted as predating Aphodius dung beetles (Scarabaeidae) but it is likely they are also more general predators. Sampling adults usually involves extensive searching of suitable habitats (our other Poecilus are superficially similar but any specimen with dark antennal bases is worth a closer look, see below), pitfall traps baited with fermenting apples have sometimes proved effective but these are non-discriminatory and, in this kind of habitat they are likely to trap other rare beetles and so should be examined very frequently.

Poecilus kugelanni

Poecilus kugelanni

12-14 mm. Bright metallic green or bronze, usually with the forebody coppery or bronze and the elytra green, sometimes with the margins narrowly coppery (the vernacular name in France is Poecilus tricolor), entirely dark specimens occasionally occur, antennae black with the two basal segments brown, at least ventrally, legs black. Head wrinkled and very finely punctured between large and convex eyes, each side with two supra-orbital punctures, temples short and strongly converging to a wide neck, frontal furrows well-impressed and almost parallel. Three basal antennomeres finely keeled above. Pronotum transverse, broadest about the middle and narrowed to slightly projecting anterior angles and obtuse and finely-toothed posterior angles, lateral margin at most only very narrowly explanate, inner basal fovea long and deeply-impressed, outer fovea much shorter. Elytra with a complete basal margin and finely punctured striae, including a short scutellary striole, interstices usually without isolated punctures, flat or weakly convex towards the base and apex, epipleura crossed before the apex. Front tibiae strongly broadened after well-developed antennae-cleaning notches. Basal segments of hind tarsi deeply furrowed externally. Males are usually shinier than females and can always be distinguished by the dilated front tarsi.