Sulphur Beetle

Sulphur Beetle on ThymeThe bright colour of Sulphur Beetles makes them hard to miss, despite being small. 
Photo: Amanda Scott

Scientific name: Cteniopus sulphureus

What to look for:

  • Colouring: A distinctive bright yellow, with a darker head, legs and thorax
  • Size: 7 to 10 mm
  • Where: Between May and July, in sunny weather on dry grassland or sand dunes, feeding on flowers such as Wild Carrot and Wild Thyme. It is mainly a coastal species and with a southerly distribution in the UK.
  • Similar species: No other beetle species in the UK has this distinctive colouring

Sulphur beetles on Thyme

Sulphur Beetles might be small, but they are relatively easy to spot with their bright yellow colouring contrasting with the flowers of their favourite umbellifer flowers. These attractive little beetles live on the flowerheads of plants such as Wild Carrot and Wild Thyme, feeding on the nectar and pollen, and are often locally abundant.

The larvae are rarely seen: they feed on the ground on decaying wood and plant material.

Did you know…?

…Sulphur Beetles are adapted to favour warm, sunny conditions, hence their southerly distribution in the UK and why we are more likely to see them when the sun is shining.

More information and references:

Chinery, M., 2004. Collins Complete Guide to British Insects. Collins, London.

Published: July 2014
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Amanda Scott