Pogonocherus hispidus (Linnaeus, 1758)

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CHRYSOMELOIDEA Latreille, 1802

CERAMBYCIDAE Latreille, 1802

LAMIINAE Latreille, 1825

POGONOCHERINI Mulsant, 1839

POGONOCHERUS Dejean, 1821

This is a common and widespread species throughout southern and central England and Wales, extending sporadically and very locally further north to southern Scotland although it is very probably under recorded as the adults resemble bird droppings and are mostly nocturnal. The continental distribution includes the whole of Europe north to about sixty degrees in Fennoscandia and extends across North Africa, Caucasus and Russia east to the Urals and in general it is the most common member of the genus. It is essentially a woodland insect but may occur in a wide range of situations, especially in early spring and late autumn when they disperse from their summer quarters and at this time they may occur in gardens and (from our own experience) town centres, open deciduous woodland and parkland are probably most favoured but they also occur in disturbed habitats and among shrubs on roadsides etc. Adults are present year-round, they overwinter under bark and among dead wood but are active in mild spells throughout and may be found at night on fences and trunks in sheltered situations, and several will usually occur in a small area, they become active from February or March when they may swarm on trunks and when mating occurs, and remain active into late summer when overwintered adults die-off. Females oviposit on small twigs and branches, 1-2cm in diameter, of a notably wide range of hosts, these include almost any broadleaf tree species but also many shrubs and, unusually, ivy, holly and, on the continent, they have been observed on mistletoe. Larvae develop under bark, producing long and sometimes branching galleries, through the summer and into the autumn when they enter the xylem to pupate in an oval cell near the surface. Adults eclose in late summer or autumn and may remain within the pupal cell until the spring or they may emerge and overwinter under bark or even in leaf-litter beneath trunks and fences of hedgerows, becoming active in mild spells. Finding adults is straightforward; during the winter, and especially from February, they may be seen by carefully searching trunks at night (in our experience  they like  to roam on  Fraxinus trunks)  but they may  also be found

by chance in unusual situations as we found one on a restaurant window in Watford Town Centre in late November, as the spring arrives they may be swept from low foliage or vegetation in wooded areas but later they tend to remain on foliage and will occur in the beating tray; a good way to find them is to hold a tray under a copious growth of ivy and beat the foliage so that dislodged insects fall into it. During the winter and early spring they may occur in numbers but otherwise only single specimens tend to occur.

A small, 4.0-6.5mm, and very distinctive species that might only be confused with other members of the genus (see below) although our two species of Leiopus Audinet-Serville, 1835 might appear superficially similar without experience, here the basal antennomere is long and gradually expanded towards the apex, in the present genus it is strongly expanded medially but in any case they are easily separated by carefully comparing specimens with good photos. Colour very distinctive, as shown; the general pattern is fairly constant but the colours may vary in intensity, especially the pale areas which may be brilliant white to dull creamy-yellow. Antennae long and robust, longer in the male but reaching slightly beyond the elytral apex in both sexes, basal segment broadest about the middle and a little shorter than the pronotal length, second segment very small, segments 3-11 long and bicoloured; pale around the base and dark towards the apex. Pronotum transverse, with a wide blunt and shiny tubercle either side of the disc and a large tooth just behind the middle of the lateral margin. Scutellum entirely dark. Elytra narrowed from very wide shoulders to a truncate apical margin which is rounded or simply angled at the sutural apex and produced externally into a sharp tooth, surface obliquely depressed from the humerus to the suture, without striae but with random large punctures which may be dense around the scutellum. Colour distinctive; dark around the scutellum but otherwise extensively pale in the basal third, apical half mostly dark but usually charcoal-grey along the suture and a mixture of pale and dark brown laterally. The elytra are also distinctive in side view, each with a raised area near the base and with two patches of raised setae in the apical half, often joined by a narrow line of pale pubescence. Legs short and robust, femora broadest around the middle, tibiae gradually widened from a narrow base to a broad apex, tarsi pseudotetramerous with all but the tiny fourth segments expanded. In most specimens the legs are clothed with alternating and fairly well-defined areas of pale and dark pubescence.

Similar species

Pogonocherus hispidulus

  • Sutural elytral angle with a blunt tooth

  • Scutellum with a median line of pale hairs

  • Elytra with three or four patches of raised dark setae in the apical half

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