Elateridae of the British Isles

Selatosomus aeneus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Size – 11-17mm. 

Description – A large, metallic species with wide pronotum and elytra and no obvious covering of hairs. Colour ranges from green/gold to green/purple. Ridges are obvious down the length of the elytra. The legs are dark brown/black in colour and the antennae are the length of the pronotum. 

National Biodiversity Network map showing the distribution of Selatosomus aeneus across Britain and Ireland.

British and Irish distribution of Selatosomus aeneus (Linnaeus, 1758) based on records held by the National Biodiversity Network.

Distribution data supplied by:

  • Countryside Council for Wales
  • Natural England
  • Leicestershire Environmental Resources Centre
  • Highland Biological Recording Group

Distribution – Common in Wales, especially in the north-west and mid-Wales. Other scattered records from Norfolk, the Midlands, Cumbria, the south-west and the Black Isle. 

Biology – Larvae develop underground in soil, in leaf litter, in fungi or in decomposing stumps. They are primarily phytophagous feeding on seeds, seedlings, roots and other underground parts of various plant species, but are also known to be coprophagous feeding on the faeces of ruminants. They are bright yellow and reach 25mm in length and 3.3mm in width. The larval period lasts between 2-4 years depending on climate, with 8-12 instars. Pupation occurs in August, the pupa itself being white in colour and around 16mm long. The insect ecloses shortly after pupation in August or September, the imago wintering underground at a depth of between 10-25cm. The imago subsequently emerges in May and June and lays it’s eggs in soil or leaf litter. Eggs are spherical, white in colour and approximatley 0.7mm in diameter (Fasulati, S.R., 2003-2009, www.agroatlas.ru). Imagos can be found resting on various grass species and the flowers of herbaceous plants and also by beating trees and on logs. In some parts of Europe this species is a serious crop pest.

Habitat – Predominantly upland meadows and conifer plantations, but will also be found in lowland grasslands.

Photo by D.I. Gavryushin courtesy of www.zin.ru/Animalia/Coleoptera

Photo by D.I. Gavryushin courtesy of www.zin.ru/Animalia/Coleoptera