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Some Cantal Coleoptera (Beetles)

The variety of habitat in this part of the Auvergne, with its vast tracts of grassland with grazing livestock, mountain streams and woodland supports a rich and diverse beetle fauna. Many of the species are characteristic of mountain regions or higher altitude.
Unlike butterflies, beetles often go unnoticed even though they are all around us, but the occasional emergence swarm of a species or a casual intruder scuttling across the patio will sometimes attract our curiosity.
The following is the result of my (not very thorough) entomological investigation of this delightful locality during two memorable holidays; the first in April 2002 and the second in June 2005. It attempts to give an indication of some of the more conspicuous species which the interested naturalist may come across in the course of his or her rambles.

The first species Pyllopertha horticola was found in abundance in the garden of the “Sweet Little House” in the month ofJune. It is a chafer of the family Scarabaeidae which feeds as a larva on the roots of grasses. It may occur as an emergence swarm which synchronises the availability of mates. It flies readily in warm sunshine and like all beetles it is completely harmless.

The Blue Stag Beetle Platycerus capreae, is quite rare occurring throughout Europe in areas of high altitude. It is much smaller than the commoner Stag Beetle, but has a similar life history, spending its early stages as a larva in rotten wood, probably of ash.
I came across three examples: one crawling across a path, one resting on a fence paling and another under a stone. It does not occur in G.B.

Dictyoptera aurora is another montane species. It is a handsome velvety brick-red colour.
In G.B. it occurs only in Scotland.

Saperda scalaris is a strikingly marked longhorn beetle, one of many species to be found hereabouts. Like most longhorn beetles, it is attracted to recently felled timber where it lays its eggs and undergoes its metamorphosis. It is a ready flier. The present specimen settled on a fallen cherry tree by the stream near the junction of the road from “Sweet Little House” and the main road as I was watching the activities of another longhorn beetle Xylotrechus rusticus.

Carabus auronitens is a large handsome ground-beetle which is nocturnal usually, but sometimes active in the day-time on hot days. It is one of several Carabus species to be found here. The others are C. monilis, C. nemoralis, C. problematicus and C. cancellatus. The latter is a diurnal species (not found in G.B.) which may be found running about on the turf on the Puy de Sancy.

Chrysocloa is a leaf beetle which occurs in damp meadows on knapweed and other compositae. The example illustrated is an unusual multi-coloured “rainbow” variety. It is usually a sombre dark blue or even black. It is not recorded from G.B.