Ground beetle (Bembidion nigropiceum)

GenusBembidion (1)
SizeLength: less than 7.5 mm (2)

Classified as Nationally Scarce in Great Britain (3).

Unlike many members of the Bembidion genus, the largest genus of ground beetles in Britain, this blackish ground beetle does not have a metallic sheen (2). It is small, flattened and rather parallel-sided compared to other Bembidion species (4).

Found around the coast of southern Britain between Kent and Pembrokeshire. Elsewhere it occurs in Europe on the Mediterranean coast and along the English Channel (3).

This species dwells on shingle and coarse sand beaches, or amongst rubble at the base of coastal cliffs (3). It can be found under rocks near the high-water mark (5).

This ground beetle has an annual life cycle (it takes a year to complete); larvae are present in summer, the adults hibernate through the winter and emerge the following spring, when they are believed to breed (3); they are seen between March and June (5). Both the adults and larvae are predatory, taking small insects. It is thought that this species spends much of its time below ground (3) and is often found deep within shingle (4).

Development along the coast, as well as costal sea-defences are thought to represent the main threats facing the species (3). Marine pollution is a possible further threat (5).

As a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species, a Species Action Plan has been published for this beetle, which aims to maintain the current range of the species. At a number of known sites, this species occurs within Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) or National Nature Reserves (NNRs), and therefore receives a degree of legal protection (3). Furthermore, English Nature has incorporated Bembidion nigropiceum in its Species Recovery Programme.

For more on English Nature's Species Recovery Programme see:

Information authenticated by Dr Martin Luff of the School of Biology, University of Newcastle, with the support of the British Ecological Society:

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2002)
  2. Lindroth, C. H. (1974) Handbooks for the identification of British insects. Volume IV. Part 2: Coleoptera, Carabidae. The Royal Entomological Society of London, London.
  3. UKBAP Species Action Plan. (September 2002)
  4. Luff, M. (2004) Pers. comm.
  5. Hymen, P. S. and Parsons, M.S. (1992) A review of the scarce and threatened Coleoptera of Great Britain: Part 1. JNCC, Peterborough.