Tasgius morsitans (Rossi, 1790)
Widespread across Europe from Spain to Greece and Ukraine and north to the UK and the south of Norway and Sweden, this species is locally common in the south and in some central regions but sporadic in the north e.g. it is very rare in Poland and the eastern Baltic countries but locally common in southern Sweden. In the UK it is locally common across the south of England and the midlands, much more scarce further north to Cumbria and there are only a few scattered records from Scotland, it is common around the coast of Wales but rare inland and it also occurs on Anglesey, Man and the Isle Of Wight. Adults occur year-round, they are active over a long season from early spring and peak in abundance during July and August. In the UK it occurs in open and dry habitats such as grassland, parkland and open woodland but it is also common in disturbed habitats such as gardens and roadside verges, and often in coastal areas on dunes and beaches where they have been observed predating amphipods along the strand line. On the continent it is more eurytopic, occurring in wetland habitats, open and dry situations as well as strongly shaded conifer and broadleaf woodland where it lives among litter and moss or under stones and fallen wood. Both adults and larvae are nocturnal predators and both hunt for other insects etc on the ground through the spring and summer, the species is thought to be univoltine with pupation in late summer and autumn and adults overwintering and reproducing in the spring. Adults may be found by turning logs and stones at any time of year or by searching lawns or pathways at night during the warmer months; domestic gardens are often a good place to find them, they occur commonly in pitfall traps and are known to fly though they rarely do so.
Tasgius morsitans 1
Tasgius morsitans 2
Tasgius morsitans 3
12-18mm. Distinctive among our fauna due to the large size and red appendages, several other large species also have red legs but the present species can be distinguished by the pronotal punctures which are dense and equal in size, in the others the punctures are of two distinct sized (micropunctures among the larger punctures) and more widely spaced. Body black with a faint metallic blue reflection, all appendages substantially red; the middle antennal segments usually darker, entire dorsal surface with short recumbent pubescence. Head transverse with weakly convex eyes that follow the outline, rounded temples and a straight basal margin, surface dull due to dense punctures, antennae long and filiform, mandibles long, narrow and without a distinct internal tooth. Pronotum quadrate or slightly elongate, parallel-sided with a rounded basal margin and obtuse anterior angles, surface entirely punctured, without a smooth median line. Elytra quadrate or slightly transverse, curved laterally and broadened to rounded posterior angles, surface dull due to dense micropunctures. Abdomen dull, tergites with asperate punctures throughout and strong cellular microsculpture along the basal and apical margins.