Elateridae of the British Isles

Athous vittatus (Fabricius, 1793)

Size – 8-12mm.

Description  – Similar to the closely related A.haemorrhoidalis, but slightly smaller and more variable. Colour combinations include a uniform brown over the whole pronotum and elytra or a dark brown pronotum with elytra striped with dark brown and a lighter chestnut/red brown. In this form the elytra show a darker stripe down centre of the elytra and sometimes also down the outer edges. A covering of slightly lighter brown hairs are obvious. The legs are a light brown colour and the antennae extend just beyond the posterior edge of the pronotum.  

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

British and Irish distribution of Athous (Athous) vittatus (Fabricius, 1792) based on records held by the National Biodiversity Network.

Distribution data supplied by:

  • National Trust
  • Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre
  • Countryside Council for Wales
  • Natural England
  • Leicestershire Environmental Resources Centre
  • Highland Biological Recording Group
  • Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre

Distribution – Fairly widespread and common in England, seemingly most common in Wales. Only known from a handful of records in western Scotland.

Biology – Larvae develop in soil, feeding on the roots of grasses and seedlings of trees and herbaceous plants. Imago insects emerge in May and June and are associated with a wide range of trees, primarily broadleaved species including Beech (Fagus sylvatica), Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), Oak (Quercus spp.), Walnut (Juglans regia), Alder (Alnus glutinosa) and Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), but also on conifers. Unlike the closely related A. haemorrhoidalis, this species is not widely known to be a serious agricultural pest, but is considered a problem in some areas of northern Europe.

Habitat – Broadleaved and mixed woodland.