(Photo and text by Zoltán György, Ottó Merkl and Tamás Németh)

In 2012 the HNHM was commissioned by the Kiskunság National Park Directorate to conduct a monitoring survey on the floodplain of the Natura 2000 site of Tiszaalpár. The main task of the Coleoptera Collection staff was to find protected beetle species. Selected sites were monitored every two or three weeks form spring to mid summer in order to learn more about the fauna of the area. At the end of the study valuable data were provided on several protected species and also on species that were not recorded previously in the area, not even in the whole region of the Great Plain.

It was early in the spring when we first explored the site to be monitored.

At such times beetles remain hidden under bark, in the soil or in decayed wood until it gets warmer. GPS coordinates were obtained in order to document the precise location of rare and protected species.

Protected ground beetles belonging to the genus Carabus hibernate during the winter under the bark of willow logs. We have found two species in the area.

Carabus clathratus
is a rare species in Hungary, although it is abundant at the few locations where it occurs. Besides the site monitored in Tőserdő it is frequently encountered in marsh and swamp forests in Ócsa, Bátorliget and Kis-Balaton. It was recorded in almost all wet wooded habitats within the surveyed area.

Carabus granulatus is one of the most common Carabus species in Hungary, found in abundance all over the country. These beetles hibernate in groups under the loose bark of fallen willow and poplar trees.

Water beetles in canals, ponds and backwaters were also studied.

Hollows in rotten willow trees provide shelter for plenty of beetles.

This Otter didn’t make it through the winter. Its skeletal remains were found in the large hollow of a willow tree.

There are thousands of insects milling around in the impenetrable jungle of the floodplain forests in summer.

Several reptiles and amphibians were encountered near the church of Tiszaalpár.
Juvenile water-snake (Natrix natrix)

Baby European Pond Turtle  (Emys orbicularis).

European Tree Frog (Hyla arborea).

A group of ancient oak and maple trees is found in the hard-wood floodplain forest in the backwater area of Tőserdő.

Some specimens of Dirrhagofarsus attenuatus (Mäklin, 1845) were collected with the help of a vehicle-mounted net during a collecting trip in June. Dirrhagofarsus attenuatus is a rare, short-lived beetle that has recently been recorded from only a few sites in Hungary (e.g. Gödöllő Hills and Szigetköz).

A vast number of Ampedus cardinalis (Schiödte, 1865) preferring old forests was collected during its swarming period in April. Within the Great Plain, this species was recorded only twice in Debrecen long ago and once in Gyula in 2008. In the Danube–Tisza Interfluve it is only known from Tiszaalpár. Ampedus sanguinolentus (Schrank, 1776) and Ampedus pomonae (Stephens, 1830) (see figure) were also present in large numbers under the loose bark of dead trees.

Swarming specimens of Paraphotistus nigricornis (Panzer, 1799) preferring wet habitats were knocked from elm trees in the wet areas of the floodplain forest.

The largest oak of the forest, and maybe of the whole area, was found in June.
This English oak has a girth of 583 cm.

The protected Greater Stag Beetle, Lucanus cervus (Linnaeus, 1758)  
is found on the trunk of large oaks.

The protected Great Rose Chafer Protaetia aeruginosa (Drury, 1770) is usually
flitting around in the high canopy of trees

Finding the remains of Dermestoides sanguinicollis (Fabricius, 1787), a species of checkered beetles that is on the brink of extinction in most countries, was a really big deal. This beetle is found on old, barkless oaks where it preys on wood-boring beetles and their larvae.

Lymexylon navale (Linnaeus, 1758) also called timber-destroyer is a rare, odd-looking, soft-bodied beetle also preferring old, barkless oak trees. This species is known from only a few sites mainly because as adult it lives for only a short time and does not feed. Therefore it is really challenging to find one. Its larvae are predated by the above-mentioned Dermestoides sanguinicollis.

Allandrus undulatus (Panzer, 1795) has three documented locations in Hungary

Although tiny and unimpressive, Xylophilus testaceus (Herbst, 1806) is a rare and unique species.

Although Lichenophanes varius (Illiger, 1801) occurs in many types of forest associations, it is rarely encountered. It can seldom be knocked from the branches and trunks of old trees in the daytime and can rather be gathered at night by light traps.

From late summer onwards wine traps were also used to increase the number of recorded species. There were twenty bottles filled with red wine and banana, placed in different habitats. Several species were collected, many of which could not be captured by any other means.

Protaetia fieberi (Kraatz, 1880) and Protaetia affinis (Andersch, 1797) – protected rose chafer species.
Since both of them inhabit primarily warm oak forests in mountains, their occurrence in the plain is indeed remarkable. From nature conservation point of view our greatest achievement was recording Protaetia fieberi

On hot, muggy summer nights, plenty of beetles were attracted to the light traps and mercury vapour lamps used by our lepidopterist colleagues.

Ochodaeus chrysomeloides (Schrank, 1781) is a small lamellicorn beetle living in the soil. Its life history is virtually unknown. It emerges to the surface as it gets dusk, flitting around close to the ground. Light traps, sweep nets and vehicle-mounted nets are used to catch them in the evening.

While Nacerdes carniolica (Gistel, 1834) previously occurred only in the mountains of Mecsek and Kőszeg, as referred to in Kaszab’s guide to false blister beetles in 1956, it has recently been caught in forestry light traps, wine traps and on blossoming linden trees all over the country. Unlike all other false blister beetles, Nacerdes carniolica swarms at night.

The tiny lamellicorn Glaresis rufa Erichson, 1848 proposed for protection in 2012 is a typical beetle of sandy areas. Apart from swarming at dusk we know basically nothing about its behaviour. It can be collected most appropriately with vehicle-mounted net or light trap provided that it is turned on yet before dusk. Its presence at the site indicates that the monitored area lies at the junction of the sandy Danube-Tisza Interfluve and the flood plain soil formed in the Tisza-valley.

The click beetle Agriotes modestus Kiesenwetter, 1858 is mainly found in moderately moist dry forests on sandy plains. It is usually collected with light traps. Because of their similar features A. modestus can be mistaken for Agriotes pilosellus inhabiting mountains. However, there is no overlap between the habitats of the two species. Therefore precise knowledge of the habitat and the exact location can help identify them. 

Unlike suggested by its Hungarian name (“walnut beetle”) Aegosoma scabricorne (Scopoli, 1763) develops not only in walnut but also in several other tree species. We could observe their huge exit holes on willow and poplar trees everywhere.

Results of the short-term monitoring project will be provided in autumn.

Copyright © 2009. Hungarian Natural History Museum, Department of Zoology, Coleoptera Collection