Elateridae of the British Isles

Athous haemorrhoidalis (Fabricius, 1801)

Size  – 10-15mm.

Description – An elongated species with a relatively long pronotum. The elytra are a red/brown colour with a slightly darker line running down the centre. The elytra are shallowly pitted in rows down their lengths. The pronotum is a noticeably darker brown than the elytra. There is a dense covering of lighter brown hairs. The legs are similar in colour to the elytra, lightening on the tarsi. The antennae are slightly shorter than the length of the head and pronotum.

National Biodiversity Network map showing the distribution of Athous (Athous) haemorrhoidalis across Britain and Ireland.

British and Irish distribution of Athous (Athous) haemorrhoidalis (Fabricius, 1801) based on records held by the National Biodiversity Network.

Distribution data supplied by:

  • National Trust
  • Merseyside BioBank
  • Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre
  • Merseyside BioBank
  • Merseyside BioBank
  • Highland Biological Recording Group
  • Greenspace Information for Greater London
  • Devon Biodiversity Records Centre
  • North East Scotland Biological Records Centre
  • Balfour-Browne Club
  • National Trust for Scotland (staff)
  • Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre
  • Dorset Environmental Records Centre
  • Royal Horticultural Society
  • Lothian Wildlife Information Centre
  • Countryside Council for Wales
  • Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
  • Countryside Council for Wales
  • Natural England
  • Leicestershire Environmental Resources Centre
  • Staffordshire Ecological Record
  • Staffordshire Ecological Record

Distribution – One of the most common Elaterids in Britain. Very common and widespread in England and Wales, common in Scotland.

Biology – Larvae develop in soil and feed on the roots of various grass species, including cereals in cultivation and other crop species such as tomatoes and potatoes. The larval stage lasts at least two years, after which pupation occurs in June or July, the insect eclosing shortly after in August. The imago overwinters in the pupal case underground, subsequently emerging in May or June of the following year. Imago insects can be readily found resting on flowers of various species (particularly Umbellifers) and by beating a large number of tree species, both broadleaves and conifers. This species, along with some Agriotes spp., is responsible for considerable damage to agricultural crops in some areas and in such circumstances, is considered a pest.

Habitat – Ubiquitous, occuring in a wide range of habitats including broadleaved, mixed and coniferous woodland, grasslands, parks and gardens, coastal areas and agricultural land.

Photo by J. Wallace, 2009