Trixagus gracilis Wollaston, 1854
POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886
ELATEROIDEA Leach, 1815
Trixagus Kugelann, 1794
Only relatively recently confirmed as distinct, this species was formerly confused with the European T. elateroides (Heer, 1841) in the British and continental literature (Leseigneur, 1997) and so older records need to be treated with caution. T. gracilis is widespread though patchily distributed in Europe from Spain to Greece and southwest Russia and north into Germany and Poland, it is generally absent from the Baltic countries although it is known from Latvia and this represents the northern limit of its continental distribution, further south it occurs across northwest Africa and is present on Madeira and the Azores. Through most of Europe it is very local and rare and its presence in many countries is based on only a few modern records. Here it is a very rare species that is thought to have declined in recent years; there are a few recent records from southeast England and East Anglia and a few more widespread but older records across the south. Little is known of the biology but adults are usually found among moss or litter at wetland margins and may they have often been recorded from salt marsh vegetation (this is surely the species Joy refers to as dermestoides; ‘generally in early spring in salt marshes’.) Although very local and rare, adults usually occur in numbers, they are diurnal and on warm days fly to flowers where they probably feed on pollen etc.
1.9-2.6 mm. Very typical of the family in general habitus but broader than most species, entirely pale to dark brown or grey, usually with paler appendages, and with dense and fine pubescence that forms distinct lines on the elytra. Distinguished from our other species by the form of the head; the eyes are deeply incised, leaving only two or three facets between the end of the incision and the posterior margin of the eye, and the frons has two very fine keels which must be looked for very carefully and may only become visible with strong low-angle light. Pronotum discretely and rather strongly punctured throughout. Elytral striae impressed and finely punctured to the apex, interstices randomly punctured throughout; in the basal half each with three or four irregular rows of punctures that are about as strong as those in the striae. Males are readily recognized by a small protruding tuft of setae which looks like a sharp tooth towards the base on the external margin of the middle tibiae.
© Lech Borowiec