Cantharis livida

One of our New Year’s resolutions is to make regular trawls through the depths of our extensive species lists in order to introduce you to some of the less visible (and sometimes much less fluffy) of the reserve’s inhabitants.

Let’s begin here: in June of last summer, Ian Bushell found and recorded for the first time in the reserve, Cantharis livida, one of several genera and many species of Coleoptera that go by the common name of soldier beetle.

This is a species of the reserve’s long grass and open woodland edges The set-aside areas at the top of Kestrel Field and Village Green are their ideal habitat: tall grasses and tangled vegetation buzzing with insect prey. Typically a lowland species, Cantharis livida is widespread throughout England and Wales, but never common. It is much rarer in Scotland.

This is a carnivorous beetle; the adults are fierce predators, hunting other insects. They often station themselves on flowers, where they wait, confident that nectar and pollen feeders will arrive. The larvae, down at ground level, hunt snails and worms.

Summer, from May to August, is the best time to see them but June and July are the peak months.

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