Posted by: Ross Gardner | June 18, 2012

Longhorn Beetles

I have to admit, I’m rather fond of a longhorn beetle.  I’ve been seeing one or two over the last few weeks and decided they would be worthy of a quick post to themselves.

The Cerambycidae, as they are scientifically referred to, are frequently large and impressive looking beetles and often strikingly marked.  There are as many as 20000 species known worldwide and there are about 60 native or established at large in Britain.

The adults of a number of species can regularly be found during the spring and summer feeding on the pollen of various plants, in particular the flower heads of umbellifers.  As larvae, most species are associated with wood (dead or alive, depending on the species) on which they feed.  One of the more common and arguably one of the most attractive species, certainly in the southern half of the UK, is Rutpela maculata (also known as the Spotted of Harlequin Longorn)…

Spotted or Harlequin Longhorn (Rutpela maculata). Copyright 2010 Ross Gardner

A few species however, feed internally on such robust herbaceous plants as thistle and hogweed.  One of these is the splendid looking and somewhat uncommon Agapanthia villosoviridescens (which has aparently been afforded the common name of Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle, which isn’t much less of a mouthful than the scientifc version).  They have been out and about again this spring, but this one was photographed in south Essex last summer…

Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn (Agapanthia villosoviridescens). Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner

But the first longhorn sighting for me this year was this Rhagium mordax (or Blackspotted Pliers Support Beetle – who thinks up these names!?) that settled obligingly beside me while I ate my lunch on a bridge at Woodwalton Fen, in Cambridgeshire, last month …

Rhagium mordax (Blackspotted, etc, etc…). Copyright 2012 Ross Gardner

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