Elateridae of the British Isles

Limoniscus violaceus (Muller, P.W.J., 1821)

Size – 10-12mm.

Description РA quite elongated species. As it name suggests, it is a uniform dark purple colour, with a covering of similarly coloured hairs. The antennae are relatively short and are approximately the length of the pronotum. Ridges down the length of the elytra appear as distinct rows of pits.

National Biodiversity Network map showing the distribution of Limoniscus violaceus across Britain and Ireland.

British and Irish distribution of Limoniscus violaceus (MÁller, P.W.J., 1821) based on records held by the National Biodiversity Network.

Distribution data supplied by:

  • Natural England

Distribution – Protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Endangered and restricted to a handful of sites in southern Britain.

Biology – The larvae are predatory, feeding on a range of other invertabrate larvae and occupy decaying leaf and wood matter in the hollow bases of Beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Ash (Fraxinus excelsior). It is thought that the presence of birds nests in the trees above is important for this species as the larvae may require raised nitrogen levels. Two summers are spent in the larval stage, after which pupation occurs and the insect ecloses, spending the winter as an imago inside the pupa. Imagos are predominantly nocturnal and are recorded as feeding on Hawthorn (Cratageus spp.) flowers.

Habitat – Ancient broadleaved woodland.