Longhorn beetles (LHB) are a fascinating group of beetles, mostly large and colourful but even the smaller and plainer species have their own charm. Finding them can be a little difficult sometimes but help is at hand… a short and simple how to find longhorn beetles follows.
Its is never easy or an exact science when you set out to find longhorn beetles. Of course, exceptions exist with a few species like Grammoptera ruficornis, which is found on hawthorn blossom across the land, and Rutpela maculata, which frequents large flowering heads of hogweed and other unbellifers… already you’ve been let in on the two easiest ways to find LHBs, hawthorn blossom and flowering umbelifers, but other flowers are also used like such as bramble.
Hawthorn flowers around May depending on where you are in the land. The familiar scent from the white blossom isn’t just attractive to us, or me at least – I have had a friend tell me it smells horrid – but beetles love it too. You have two options with hawthorn blossom, trusting your eye to spot the beetles at close quarters going about their daily business or with a beating tray.
The beating tray can be a white sheet suspended over a frame, a purchased one from an entomological dealers or my personal fave, the white umbrella. It isn’t just a tray, it’ll keep you dry should you get caught out, shaded on break from beetling (but who breaks when you are out beetling, right?). All you do is hold the tray/sheet/umbrella under the blossom, tap the vegetation once or twice to dislodge any beetles and… start scanning for LHB’s.
Once the hawthorn is on the way out and the hogweed takes over, ditch the beating tray/sheet/umbrella and find yourself a nice sheltered spot along a woodland ride, woodland edge or hedgerow near a wood. Woodland. WOODLAND. I have had 6 species of longhorn over around half an hour on a small 20m stretch of sheltered woodland edge in full sun from just peering at the flowering heads of hogweed.
The species below are the most likely to be see on hawthorn, hogweed and less so on other umbellifers. This does depend on where abouts you are in the country. For distribution maps, please follow the link here to a dropbox file of a draft atlas produced by the recording scheme in November 2016.
Grammoptera ruficornis (similar species, G. abdominalis, which can be separated using this link)
(Photos by W.J. Heeney)
There is one remaining method, luck. It can be a beautiful thing to happen across a longhorn beetle when least expecting it. Only the other day while stood waiting for the bus to uni I noticed a single Anaglyptus mysticus crawling on the metal railing, and last year while putting the key in the front door a single Clytus arietus flew onto the plant pot by the door in the center of Nottingham.
So armed with that knowledge, here at the National Longhorn Beetle Recording Scheme, we are urging people to get out there and add to the data set by finding and recording longhorn beetles. Please submit data via iRecord and happy longhorn beetle finding.
iRecord, a free and easy website for submitting and storing biological data which is picked up by many recording scheme volunteers. https://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/
Find the recording scheme on Twitter @NLonghornRS
And on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1577096312614327/?fref=nf