A rare beetle, never before seen in Britain, has been found in Sherrardspark Wood. This beetle, rejoicing in the name Dermestoides sanguinicollis, was found by local Coleopterist, Dan Asaw, whilst surveying the range of insects in this sessile oak and hornbeam woodland.
Dan, using home-made vane traps (as in the photographs), was working to increase his own knowledge of beetles and to add to the records of beetles found in these woods. To his amazement, he found this rarity in May 2018. Initial attempts to identify the beetle proved to be difficult but an appeal on social media led to Lincolnshire-based John Lamin making a putative identification. Confirmation that this was indeed D. sanguinicollis, an insect that has never been seen in Britain, came from the naturalist and author of "Beetles of Hertfordshire" Trevor James, and Max Barclay of the Natural History Museum. Dan has written up this discovery with Max and the paper has been published in the journal 'The Coleopterist' (Asaw and Barclay, 2018).
D. sanguinicollis belongs to a family called Cleridae, commonly known as a checkered beetles. The adults have long bodies (7-9 mm) covered with bristly hairs. Although widely distributed in Europe, D. sanguinicollis beetles are very rarely found and therefore the species is listed as 'endangered' in most European countries. The beetle is fond of old oak trees in old forests, being dependent on dead or decaying wood. Its larvae live under the bark, preying on the larvae of other beetles in their galleries: it particularly likes Lymexylon navale larvae, which can also be found in Sherrardspark Wood (Warrington, S and James, T.J. (2014).
The question as to how it got to Hertfordshire leads to speculation that it came in on imported untreated timber as larvae. Dan and Max note in their paper that this is a matter of concern, as it suggests that mature oak timber from Europe's remaining natural old growth forests are still being felled and exported.
Asaw, D and Barclay, M. (2018). Dermestoides sanguinicollis (Fabicius, 1787) (Cleridae: Korynetinae), a rare saproxylic beetle new to Britain. The Coleopterist 27 (2) 49-53.
Warrington, S. & james, T.J. (2014). Lymexylon navale (Linnaeus) (Lymexylidae) in Hertfordshire with notes on its wider distribution. The Coleopterist 23: 11.
The original paper can be found on ResearchGate:
Dan has set up a twitter page for beetles in Sherrardspark Wood. If anyone sees anything interesting and would like an identification, they can tag images with a date and rough location and he will generate records for larger showier species.
Posts should be tagged @BeetlesSpw or #spwinverts.