This lovely and somewhat rare longhorn beetle species was spotted at Erisey Barton in July.
Photo: Sarah Board
Scientific name: Leptura aurulenta
Other common names: Hornet Beetle
Conservation status: Nationally Scarce A (found in no more than 16 to 30 10-km squares in the UK)
What to look for:
• Colouring and appearance: Males have red-brown markings on the elytra (the hardened front wings, or wing cases), while in females they are yellow. The long antennae are characteristic of almost all longhorn beetles.
• Size: Length, 12 to 23 mm (females are larger).
• Where: On oak or other broadleaf trees.
• When: On the wing June to August, mainly in the south.
Both the common names for this striking longhorn beetle are pertinent: the females are sometimes mistaken at first glance for hornets, given the yellow and black markings, and you can also find a fringe of golden hairs on the margins of the pronotum (the hard structure that covers part of the thorax) – you can see the hairs in the main photo on this page.
The adults are around between June and August, very occasionally surviving into the early autumn. They are mainly found on Oak, and sometimes other broadleaf trees, where the females lay their eggs on dead and rotting wood. After hatching, the larvae feed on the dead wood inside the branch or stump. They stay in this form for up to three years – the low nutritional value of wood makes this necessary – before pupating in the xylem in a chamber orientated along the axis of the wood fibres, and then emerging as adults the following summer.
Did you know…?
…Globally, there are over 26,000 species of longhorn beetle. There are over 60 species living in the UK.
More information and references:
Jones, S., 2010. Insects of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Alison Hodge, Penzance, Cornwall.
Published: September 2017
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Kate Board