The cardinal click beetle (Ampedus cardinalis) has russet-red wing cases (elytra), a shiny black thorax and a covering of fine orange hairs. The larvae are cylindrical and elongate, yellowish-orange in colour and are quite active.
Like all click beetles, this cardinal click beetle has a novel means of righting itself, should it be flipped over onto its back. The back is arched, and the beetle flips up into the air with an audible 'click', often landing back on its feet.
The larvae of this click beetle develop in the red-rotten heartwood of old, but still living, oak boughs and trunks (1)(6). Adults are found in pupal cells from September through to April, but are found free in the hollowed-out heartwood from May to July (1). Adult beetles actively predate upon the larvae of developing beetles and flies, and are thought to fly only rarely (3)(6).
This cardinal click beetle is found in ancient broad-leaved woodland and pasture-woodland, and lives in decaying oak trees (Quercus spp.), breeding in heartwood which is suffering from red-rot, both in small boughs and in trunks (1)(6)(7).
The greatest threat to this cardinal click beetle is the felling of over-mature oaks and the removal of dead and fallen timber (1). This is often done as a result of increased recreational use, leading to public safety issues and tidiness concerns (4). Broad-leaved woodland and parkland is lost through clear-felling and conversion to conifer plantations (7).
Many populations of this cardinal click beetle are found on National Nature Reserves (NNRs) or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), but poor management in the past has resulted in the habitat of these beetles being removed, or becoming inconsistent over time (1). This click beetle is receiving attention, along with other species that require rotting wood, in the Biodiversity Action Plan for wood-pasture and parkland habitats (4). In order to ensure the continuation of this species, a diverse age-structure of oak trees in any one area must be maintained to ensure a constant presence of living oaks with rotting heartwood, in addition to leaving older trees and fallen timber as they are (6).
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