Pseudapion rufirostre (Fabricius, 1775)
Of the four European members of the genus this is the only widespread species, the others being restricted to areas around the Mediterranean, it is generally abundant in southern and central Europe and rather sporadic and local further north to the UK and southernmost parts of Fennoscandia, and to the south occurs across North Africa and the Near East. In the UK it is locally common in England north to Nottingham and mostly coastal in the West Country and Wales, it is widespread but very local in Ireland and absent from Scotland. Host plants include various species of Malvaceae; in the UK mostly on Malva sylvestris L. (common mallow) and M. neglecta Wallr. (dwarf mallow) but on the continent also on M. pusilla Sm. (round-leaved mallow (M. alcea L. (greater musk-mallow) and other species of Malva L. and also Alcea rosea L. (hollyhock). Typical habitats are field margins, roadsides and disturbed land where the host is common but they may also occur on individual plants growing in parks and gardens. Adults are active from April until September or October and are easily observed on stems and under foliage in warm weather, mating occurs in the spring after a period of feeding on tender leaves and shoots and larvae develop in the fruits, each consuming several seeds before pupating in situ. Little is otherwise known of the biology but new-generation adults occur from July until September and infested plants usually host a good number of adults.
Easily distinguished by the small size, 2.1-2.8mm, colouration and broad, weakly-convex elytral interstices. Body black with a distinct metallic green lustre, dorsal surface with long pale scales, entire ventral surface with dense pale pubescence, antennae pale yellow, legs pale yellow but usually with the femoral and tibial apices and distal tarsomeres darkened. Head and pronotum strongly but discretely punctured, vertex of head smoothly convex and eyes large and moderately convex, rostrum long and curved; in the female as long as the head and pronotum combined and entirely dark metallic, in the male as long as the pronotum and pale orange in the apical half or two-thirds. Pronotum slightly transverse, broadest near the base and contracted to a narrow anterior margin, basal furrow short but well-defined and deep. Elytra long-oval with rounded shoulders and curved lateral margins, striae narrow and indistinctly punctured, the sutural stria abbreviated before the apex of the scutellum, interstices at least 3X broader than the striae, finely punctured and variably cross-rugose. In side view the elytra form an angle with the pronotum and this feature, combined with the pale legs, is suggestive of various species of Protapion but here the angle is stronger and much more obvious and the vestiture, especially on the ventral surface, is much finer and sparser. Males are easily recognized by the bicoloured rostrum and they also have orange front coxae whereas in the female they are black. All claws with a moderately strong basal tooth in both sexes.
Pseudapion rufirostre 1
Pseudapion rufirostre 2
Pseudapion rufirostre 3
Pseudapion rufirostre 4