Weevil (Melanapion minimum)

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Melanapion minimum
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Weevil fact file

Weevil description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderColeoptera
FamilyApionidae/Brenthidae
GenusMelanapion

This small black weevil has a ridged back, but otherwise has the classic 'weevil' shape, with an extended nose or 'rostrum', to which are attached a pair of antennae with club-shaped ends.

Size
Length: 1.8 mm
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Weevil biology

Very little is known about the life of this weevil, both in the UK and Europe. The larvae live inside the galls of sawflies belonging to the genus Pontania, particularly those of Pontania pedunculi; it also uses the galls of the gall midge Iteomyia major. This weevil is what is known as an 'inquiline', a species that occupies another's home and shares its food.

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Weevil range

Historically, this weevil was fairly widespread throughout mainland UK, but it has since become rare. It has been recorded in 2000, 2001 and 2002 from several East Anglian sites, 4 in Norfolk, 1 in Suffolk; there is also a 1990 record from Northamptonshire. Elsewhere, it is found across northern Europe and central Asia, where it is also considered rare. However, in the areas where populations occur this weevil is fairly abundant.

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Weevil habitat

In the UK, this weevil is found mainly on grey willow (Salix cinerea), in wetter fencarr habitats where the willows grow in areas where the roots are seasonally flooded.

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Weevil status

Classified as Rare in the UK.

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Weevil threats

It is not known why this species has become so rare, or what threatens its existence. It is now thought that the weevil may not be as rare as was first feared, as they spend much of their time within galls.

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Weevil conservation

Melanapion minimum is listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP), and included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme. As well as maintaining the populations of this weevil at its existing sites, it is hoped that reintroductions to former sites within its historic range may also take place. For this to happen, a greater understanding of the weevil's biology and its ecological requirements is needed. There is currently a studentship at Leeds University researching this species and two other weevils, which is due to complete in 2003. Adults have already been reared from galls in the UK; this development may be a step towards captive breeding and reintroductions.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
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Find out more

The UK BAP Species Action Plan is available at:
http://www.ukbap.org.uk

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Authentication

Information supplied by English Nature.

http://www.english-nature.org.uk

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Glossary

Antennae
Pair of sensory structures on the head of invertebrates.
Carr
Term used to describe wet habitats. In East Anglia it is used to refer to wet woodlands, especially alder woods.
Fen
Wet peat, usually with alkaline water. The alkalinity arises due to ground water seeping through calcareous rocks (rocks containing free calcium carbonate).
Galls
Abnormal growths in plants, caused by disease, fungi, bacteria, or by attack by invertebrates.
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References

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Image credit

Melanapion minimum  
Melanapion minimum

© Roger Key

Dr Roger Key
Tel: +44 (0) 1845 567 292
key_r_s@yahoo.co.uk

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