Pyrrhidium sanguineum (Linnaeus, 1758)

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CHRYSOMELOIDEA Latreille, 1802

CERAMBYCIDAE Latreille, 1802

CERAMBYCINAE Latreille, 1802

CALLIDIINI Kirby, 1837

Pyrrhidium Fairmaire, 1864

This widespread Western Palaearctic species occurs throughout Europe from Portugal to Greece and north into the UK and southern provinces of Fennoscandia, it occurs on most of the Mediterranean islands and is widespread in North Africa, to the east it is known from, Israel, Iran and Syria and extends through Asia Minor into Western Russia, it is generally common and often abundant across Southern and Central Europe but much more sporadic and scarce in the north. In the UK it is locally common across Wales and South East England and sporadic and generally scarce elsewhere north to Southern Scotland but it seems to have increased in range and abundance over recent decades and so should be expected from any suitable habitat. Typical habitats are open broadleaf woodland and wooded parkland and pasture but they also occur on individual trees in fields, commons and hedgerows, the usual host is oak but other trees, including Horse Chestnut, Beech, cherry, birch and hazel, are sometimes used and very occasionally they develop in pine. Adults are active from April until June although specimens have been recorded in all months from January until September, mostly as a result of individuals responding to increased temperature when firewood is brought indoors. Mating occurs early in the season and females oviposit in bark crevices of recently dead trees, usually when these are still standing and exposed to the sun, or on larger broken branches. Larvae feed mostly within bark or between the bark and outer sapwood, they create long meandering galleries up to 60cm long which often form a characteristic U-shape and are usually fully-grown within a single season although at higher altitudes this may continue for a further year. Pupation occurs in a curved cell within the bark or the outer sapwood and adults emerge from the wood during warm spells from early April. Adults usually occur in small numbers, they are diurnal and easily observed as they run on the surface of trunks and branches, they also fly well during warm spells but do not visit flowers. Specimens observed inside are usually doomed as they tend to appear outside their normal activity period, they are harmless as they will not infest seasoned wood, only that with at least some moisture content.

Pyrrhidium sanguineum 1

Pyrrhidium sanguineum 1

Pyrrhidium sanguineum 2

Pyrrhidium sanguineum 2

Adults are absolutely distinctive among the UK fauna and should not be mistaken for any other species, but casual observers often mistake them for cardinal beetles and enthusiastic gardeners, which tend to destroy them, for lily beetles. 6-15 mm. Flat, elongate and broadly oval, head black or sometimes with a purple spot, pronotum red but often darker medially, elytra red, appendages black with grey or yellowish pubescence. Head broad and narrowed in front of relatively small and strongly curved eyes, antennae filiform, reaching into the apical third of the elytra in males but to about halfway in females. Pronotum transverse, laterally strongly angles and with a small obtuse tooth, surface with two transverse impressions and a small median keel in front of the base. Elytra almost parallel-sided from widely-rounded shoulders to separately curved apical margins, surface without striae but sometimes with obscure longitudinal ridges or, towards the base, impressions. Pronotum and elytra with dense golden or purple tomentose pubescence, femora large and clavate, tibiae long, slender and straight or slightly incurved. Tarsi pseudotetramerous and similar in males and females.