Shining pot beetle (Cryptocephalus nitidulus)

SizeBody length: 3.5 - 5 mm

Classified as Endangered in the UK.

This beetle, as its name suggests, has a shining metallic blue, bronze or purplish-green sheen over its body. The legs and antennae are reddish.

The beetle seems to have had a widely scattered distribution over much of southern England as far north as Nottinghamshire. Today, it has only been found in a very small area of Surrey. Elsewhere, the shining pot beetle is found across northern and central Europe, although it is rare in most areas where it occurs.

This beetle prefers young birch growing on the margin of chalk downland on very sheltered, south-facing slopes. It has also been found on hazel, privet and hawthorn. It was formerly found in coppice woodland.

The adults are found between May and July, and it is thought that their larvae feed in leaf litter on warm, sparsely vegetated ground under the young trees that the adults feed on. The larvae take a year to develop to the adult stage.

The main threats to this species are from removal of scrub from chalk downland.

The shining pot beetle is listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plans and included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme. It is possible that other populations still exist within the beetles' historical range. A number of surveys have been carried out to assess the true status of the species, but no other colonies have been found. A PhD studentship at Leeds University has been studying this species, and other members of the Cryptocephalus group of beetles, for the last 3 years, and a further studentship began in 2002. As with the hazel pot beetle, it may prove possible to establish ex situ breeding colonies and re-introduce the beetle back into some of its former sites.

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