Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Bark at the Moon - small invertebrates of timber (Part 5)

More from the smaller end of the macroinvertebrate scale... I got distracted from writing a book about some larger beetles (Chrysomelidae) and went back to the woodpile critters. Yesterday, I posted some images of the beetle Cryptolestes duplicatus and mentioned in passing that it was a parasite/predator of other beetle larvae. I didn't really elaborate on this at the time, so I decided to take another shot to get an image of the head and go from there.

The head of C. duplicatus showing the mandibles

As you can see, the mandibles are well developed as are the eyes so, despite being associated with bark (within a genus often associated with stored food products and thus seen as pests), it clearly isn't always in dark conditions - it may not be as fearsome as, say, a tiger beetle (Cicindelidae), but it appears well equipped to hunt. Although there is a lot of literature on Cryptolestes covering the pest status of constituent species and various taxonomic revisions, there doesn't appear to be much on its biology and ecology. However, Lukin (2010) does note that the larvae of C. duplicatus are fungus feeders beneath bark during the early stages of the decomposition of coarse dead wood.

Moving onto a species I haven't mentioned yet in this series, one other beetle caught my attention today, in particulaer the neat arrangement of hars on its dorsal surface...

Another small beetle - note the neat rows of long hairs and the curved ridges running parallel to the sides of the pronotum.
Similar in size to the previous species (around 1.7mm long), this was a relatively easy identification as I was familiar with its photograph in Hurka (2005), in particular, the pronotal ridges, long hairs and oval form. It is a specimen of Mycetaea subterranea and is in the family Endomychidae, close relatives of the ladybirds (Coccinellidae) - they are sometimes called the 'false ladybirds'. This particular species is sometimes known as the Hairy Cellar Beetle or the Handsome Fungus Beetle and is most often associated with cellars and outbuildings (barns, stables etc), although it is sometimes found in rotten wood inside hollow trees. Both larvae and adults feed on fungi.

That is enough for today - as mentioned before, I intend to keep working on the woodpile invertebrates and have some as-yet unidentified mites, barklice and, yes, beetles to work on, so this series isn't finished yet!


Hurka, K. (2005). Beetles of the Czech and Slovak Republics. Kabourek, Zlin.
Lukin, V. (2010). Species structure of the saproxylic beetles assemblages in the protected territories of Belarus.Muzeul Olteniei Craiova. Oltenia. Studii şi comunicări. Ştiinţele Naturii 26(2): 155-160.


  1. Keep going Dave, there's plenty of bacteria to find once you've run out of the big stuff :-) Thanks for some fascinating species so far.

  2. I might try some microfungi... after all, the 'Who ate my glue-pot' post is about Penicillium and Aspergillis and has by far the most pageviews of anything on my blog...