Pot beetle (Cryptocephalus primarius)
|Size||Female length: 6-8 mm|
Male length: 5-7 mm
Classified as Endangered in the UK.
This rather shiny beetle (one of the larger Cryptocephalus species) has orange wing-cases (elytra), each with five black spots. The head and thorax are shining black. Both sexes have black legs and antennae, which are relatively longer in males.
Although this beetle has been recorded from five sites as far apart as Perthshire and Dorset, its last known haunt was Rodborough Hill, near Dursley in west Gloucestershire. Outside of the British Isles, it is found in central and southern Europe.
The adult beetles are associated with common rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularium), growing on warm, calcareous hillsides. The preferred adult and larval host plant is probably rock-rose.
Very little is known about the life of these beetles. The adults are found between May and July. Larvae develop at the base of the host plant, probably feeding on leaf litter. There is no evidence to suggest a link with ants, which have been shown to pay no attention to Cryptocephalus eggs.
The chief threats to this species are the loss of the calcareous grassland habitat and inappropriate grazing regimes.
This species of leaf beetle is listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) and included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme. It is important that more information is gathered about this species' habitat requirements and its ecology, as well as the other members of the Cryptocephalus group of leaf beetles.
The rare UK members of the genus Cryptocephalus were subjects of a post-graduate study by Ross Piper of Leeds University.
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- Antennae: one of a pair of sensory structures on the head of invertebrates.
- Calcareous: containing free calcium carbonate, chalky.
- Elytra: in beetles and earwigs, the hard fore wings. They are held aloft when the insect flies, and are often coloured or patterned.
- Larvae: stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- Thorax: part of the body located near the head in animals. In insects, the three segments between the head and the abdomen, each of which has a pair of legs.