Rutpela maculata (Poda, 1761)

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CHRYSOMELOIDEA Latreille, 1802

CERAMBYCIDAE Latreille, 1802

LEPTURINAE Latreille, 1802

LEPTURINI Latreille, 1802 

Rutpela Nakane & Ohbayashi, 1959 

Generally common throughout Europe from the Mediterranean to southern Scandinavia, and from Portugal to the Near East and Russia. In the U.K. it is our most common medium sized cerambycid, occurring throughout England and Wales and into southwest Scotland and there are a few records from the Western Isles. The typical habitat is wooded borders, parkland, hedgerows and gardens etc. where decaying timber is left undisturbed. Adults occur from May into August and are active in warm weather, they feed on nectar and pollen and occur on a wide variety of flowers; early in the season on Crataegus blossom and then more generally but especially on various Apiaceae, hogweed and cow parsley, Rubus and thistles. They are easily observed when feeding and will generally be present in numbers but they fly readily when disturbed, mating occurs on the flowers and ovipositing begins in late spring after a period of maturation feeding, eggs are laid in bark crevices etc. on fallen timber and, especially, old decaying stumps. They are widely polyphagous on a range of broadleaved trees e.g. Sorbus, Fagus, Quercus, Salix, Fraxinus, Alnus, Populus and Corylus etc. but the principal host is Betula and they have also been recorded developing in Picea and Pinus. The larvae develop in moist decaying wood in larger branches, trunks and roots, the entire life-cycle takes 2 or 3 years with pupation occurring in a cell within the wood from March onwards and adults eclose from late April or May, they are short-lived, 2-4 weeks but the season is relatively long with peak emergence in June or July.

13-20mm and very distinctive with the head and pronotum black and the elytra usually patterned; the extent of the dark markings varies widely and in extreme cases they may be entirely black or entirely yellow, but generally some indication of the basic pattern is obvious, many colour varieties have been (pointlessly) named and in general when the adults are found in numbers a good range of variation will be seen.  Dorsal surface quite strongly and densely punctured and with fine and rather dense pale pubescence. Head produced anteriorly and strongly constricted behind the eyes to a distinct neck

antennae black with most segments pale towards the base. Pronotum quadrate, more robust in the female, and broadest at acute and obliquely-produced posterior angles, anterior margin narrow and without distinct angles, lateral margins without borders and produced into a wide and blunt median tooth. Disc smoothly convex and often with a median longitudinal ridge in the basal half. Elytra distinctly patterned and coloured although the ground colour varies to pale-creamy rather than yellow in some specimens (even when observed in the field), elongate; more than 2 longer than wide, with broad and prominent shoulders then tapering to a truncate apex. Legs long and slender, extensively pale with the tarsi and, especially, hind legs variously darker, sometimes entirely so. Male hind tibiae with a large tooth on the inner margin.

Similar Species
Leptura quadrifasciata
  • Legs and antennae all black
  • Elytral pattern distinctive
Strangalia attenuata
  • Generally smaller - 9-17mm
  • Overall form narrower
  • Antennal segments not bicolored

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