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Thanatophilus sinuatus (Fabricius, 1775)






POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

STAPHYLINOIDEA Latreille, 1802

SILPHIDAE Latreille, 1806

SILPHINAE Latreille, 1806

Thanatophilus Leach, 1815

Widespread and generally common throughout Europe north to southern provinces of Norway, Sweden and Finland, also present on many of the Mediterranean islands and parts of North Africa and extending east through Asia Minor and Russia to China and Japan. In the UK it is common in Southern and Central England, much less so further north and very scarce in Scotland; it is common but mostly coastal in the West Country and Wales and occurs on Anglesey but not the Isle of Man. The species is likely to occur in any fairly open habitat on any kind of soil, especially open grassland but also wasteland and coastal dunes etc., it tends to avoid thickets and dense woodland but may occur in open wooded areas and wooded parkland. Adults are present year-round; they overwinter among tussocks or moss etc. and may burrow down to 15cm in lighter soils, they are active from March until October and pea in abundance during May and June. They are attracted to any type of carrion and have also been recorded under dung or among other decaying organic matter; they fly well and may be attracted to host material over long distances. Mating usually occurs when the sexes meet at carrion, and females burrow under the host material to lay batches of eggs in the ground. Females are very fecund and each may produce up to 500 eggs, these are always laid in batches, the size of which seems to depend on the amount of host material available. Larvae emerge after a week or so and soon begin to feed on the carrion, they develop rapidly and will pass through three instars within a month, when fully grown they burrow into the soil and pupate. This stage lasts about ten days and newly emerged adults will undergo a period of maturation feeding before they leave the host material and disperse. From the phenology it is likely to be univoltine in Northern Europe but in central and southern regions there is thought to be two generations each year. Adults are mostly diurnal but are rarely found away from carcasses; they may occasionally be netted in flight or observed on the ground but are otherwise rarely encountered. Carrion-baited traps placed in almost any situation are likely to produce the species.

Thanatophilus sinuatus 1

Thanatophilus sinuatus 1

Thanatophilus sinuatus 2

Thanatophilus sinuatus 2

9-12 mm. Elongate and flat, body dull black although the forebody is usually shinier, dorsal surface with yellowish or grey pubescence, underside with golden-yellow pubescence, appendages black but for the tibial spurs and claws which are usually reddish. Head flat and finely punctured between convex eyes that follow the outline and short temples that converge strongly to a short neck, clypeus produced anteriorly from short and strongly converging cheeks. Antennae inserted laterally in front of the eyes, 11-segmented with segments 7 and 8 transverse and -11 forming a distinct and densely-pubescent club. Pronotum transverse, broadest in front of rounded posterior angles and narrowed to slightly projecting anterior angles, apical margin curved, basal margin sinuate laterally and widely produced and more-or-less straight across the middle, surface finely and densely punctured and strongly uneven throughout. Scutellum large and triangular, lateral margins angled near the base, and the apex acute. Elytral humeri with a small but obvious tooth (sometimes hidden under the pronotum), lateral margins usually more dilated in females, apical margins simply rounded in males, strongly produced along the sutural margin in females. Each elytron with three longitudinal carina and a transverse callus which raises the second and third carina behind the middle, cuticle finely punctured and flat; without tubercles. Front tibiae with small apical spurs, middle and hind tibial spur much longer, all tibiae with rows of fine spines. Tarsi with five simple segments except in males where the front tarsi are dilated.

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