The committee have been enjoying a conflab on beetles. Dick found an interesting looking beetle near his house in bright sunshine, about 30mm long with a distinctive scaly pattern on its back and he sent an email around for suggestions on its species. And then did manage to track it down himself on the internet as the meloe proscerabaeus (Black Oil Beetle). Peter then passed on Tracy Adams’ nugget which she’d given to the Nadder Valley Cluster Group that “Black Oil Beetles have a fascinating but slightly gruesome life cycle which involves the larvae or the bizarrely named 'triungulins'. They climb up onto flowers & hitch a ride on the back of a solitary mining bee who take them into the nest & where they eat all the bee's eggs & pollen & nectar stores. The larvae develop in the burrows & emerge in spring as an oil beetle ready to mate & start the cycle again. They are a declining species so it is important to submit any records.”
Andrew remarked “I get Oil Beetles on the wild bank in my garden and have been advised that you need to get a good look at the shape of the thorax to separate out the Black from the Violet Oil Beetle. I can't make the shape out from the pic and though there is certainly some violet there and the antennae are a bit bent both are features of both a Violet and a Black Oil Beetle. The Violets have a western distribution so it could be.
I haven't seen any in my garden yet this year but saw one walking down Weaveland Road on Monday - well I was walking down the road, the beetle was walking down the pavement...”
Andrew has added a photo of his own and finds it hard to decide whether his was a Black or a Violet. A green poo pellet graced the photo too, so we have further natural history findings to pass on! Andrew has also shared a useful factsheet link from BugLife about Oil Beetles.
Photo: Avocets (Izzy Fry)
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