Elateridae of the British Isles

Elater ferrugineus Linnaeus, 1758

Size – 17-24mm.

Description – Larger specimens are among the largest Elaterids in Britain. A rather variable species – males can be uniformly bright orange/red over the pronotum and elytra, with a darker brown head or dark brown on the head and pronotum, with dark red elytra. Females are coniderably smaller and uniform dark brown. Shallow rows of pits run the length of the elytra. The legs are black, with slightly lighter brown towards the apicies of the tarsi. The antennae are mid-brown to black and extend just beyond the posterior edge of the pronotum in males and are shorter in females.

National Biodiversity Network map showing the distribution of Elater ferrugineus across Britain and Ireland.

British and Irish distribution of Elater ferrugineus Linnaeus, 1758 based on records held by the National Biodiversity Network.

Distribution data supplied by:

  • Countryside Council for Wales
  • Natural England
  • Countryside Council for Wales

Distribution - Few British records, mostly from Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and London, many of these historic. An isolated record from the Swansea area.

Biology – Larvae are associated with Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Elm (Ulmus spp.). They are predatory, in captivity feeding on worms and the larvae of Dorcus parallelipipedus (Coleoptera: Lucanidae) and are often to be found in old holes previously occupied by nests. Pupation occurs in spring. Imagos are crepuscular and are attracted to light.

Photo by V. Dusanek courtesy of www.zin.ru/Animalia/Coleoptera

Photo by V. Dusanek courtesy of www.zin.ru/Animalia/Coleoptera