17 April 2011, Pécel-Ócsa

By Ottó Merkl and Tamás Németh.

Translated by  Emese Jókuthy.

We looked forward to spending a day in two sites of the metropolitan area of Budapest: the loess steppic grasslands of Pécel-Vár-hegy and the surroundings of Ócsa in the neighbourhood of a military base. Heading off quite late we arrived in Pécel around noon. We were really amazed to see the habitat teeming with beetles. We encountered several species common in spring, and took as many pictures as we could. After a while we drove to Ócsa to explore the sand grassland by the restricted military area.

Zoltán Soltész and Ottó Merkl.

Flightless earth-boring dung beetle (Lethrus apterus) along the track. Before the 20th century this strange-looking beetle was regarded as a serious pest of vineyards. However, nowadays it tends to be much more rare, and got protected status in 2012.

We found some common ground dwelling longhorn beetles such as the small
Pedestredorcadion scopolii
that looks like a sunflower seed.

And its larger relative, Carinatodorcadion aethiops.

Cockchafers (Melolontha melolontha) (Photograph by Zoltán Soltész)

Many oil beetles were feeding on the grass. Natural and secondary loess grasslands are particularly rich in oil beetles. Meloe scabriusculus is an uncommon species of the area.

The black oil beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus) is the most common and most widely distributed species of Meloe. Its range covers the steppic grasslands of the Great Plain, the fringes of mountainous forests and even agricultural lands of Hungary.

Meloe cicatricosus is the largest blister beetle species in Hungary. Besides loessy habitats it occurs in sand and saline grasslands as well. Even the smallest specimens can be easily recognized by the angulate anterior corners of the pronotum (contrary to the other species in Hungary having rounded corners) and by the narrow lines radiating in all directions from the punctures of the elytra, as referred to by its synonymic name Meloe punctatoradiatus.

The violet oil beetle (Meloe violaceus) often co-occurs with the black oil beetle, though it is more rare and prefers south-facing habitats sparsely grown with trees.

Meloe variegatus is one of the most spectacular blister beetles in Hungary.

Common sun beetle (Amara aenea).

Soldier beetle (Cantharis obscura).

Cleonis pigra is one of the most common sluggish weevil species in Hungary.

Unlike suggested by its Hungarian name (fekete barkó = black sluggish weevil) Psalidium maxillosum belongs to the subfamily of Entiminae and not the sluggish weevils (Lixinae), therefore it is rather related to the Otiorhynchus species

Rövid dudvabarkó (Lixus angustus).

Green tiger beetle (Cicindela campestris) pair mating.

Kék címerespoloska (Zicrona caerulea).

The protected Protaetia ungarica is a typical species to loess grasslands.

We continued our trip in Ócsa.

This strikingly patterned  ground beetle (Panagaeus bipustulatus) is mostly associated
with marshy forests, but in the springtime it can be found in other habitats as well.

Agriotes sputator.

Cidnopus ruzenae occurs in sandy habitats during springtime.

The tiny click beetle Drasterius bimaculatus.

Prosternon tessellatum

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