VII.2013., Eucnemi-days

The final act of the beetle season for me is to find false click beetles (Eucnemidae).  A few species can be captured already in June but most of them are available when other beetles that emerged in early summer have already laid their eggs and are not present anymore. Erratic weather, however, made it not easy to find them this summer. When it turned really hot, I managed to encounter a lot out of twenty species at different locations in Hungary. Special thanks those who accompanied me on the collecting trips.

First we visited the Visegrád Mountains where Otho sphondyloides (Germar, 1818) was found some years ago. Since the discovery I have managed to find females laying their eggs on beech logs, and once teneral adults were encountered in rotten wood of linden. Up to date distribution data helped the species to be declared protected in 2013 with a theoretical value of 50.000 HUF. The presence of this stable, though small, population urged me to invite some Czech coleopterists to share my experiences, and make them impressed too. One of the best-known experts of Palaearctic click beetles Josef Mertlik and his colleagues Ivo Jeniš and Jan Pelikán, all of them specialized in eucnemids too, accompanied me to the Visegrád Mountains (a part of the North Hungarian Mountains). The Czech colleagues wanted to study the habitat and way of life of Otho sphondyloides in order to have greater chance to discover it in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where it has never been encountered so far. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side on the day we arrived to the meeting place with Rahmé Nikola. The Czech guys turned up on time. After a brief but affectionate greeting on both sides we entered the forest. (photo N. Rahmé)

Approaching the valley, I asserted in vain that numerous Eucnemidae species inhabit the area. Due to the adverse weather, however, all of them remained hidden. (photo N. Rahmé)

A beech log fallen in the winter of 2011, pictured in 2012 by N. Rahmé.

The same log photographed in 2013. Its bark is peeling off, and fungi are growing on the trunk. (photo J. Mertlik)

Despite the cold weather and a sprinkle of rain, however, finally we were lucky enough to see a specimen of Otho sphondyloides hidden under bark. We got the species we wanted, the mission was accomplished. After carefully examining the site and gathering valuable information, the Czech colleagues left for Slovakia to look for similar habitats.  
(photo J. Mertlik)

A female Otho sphondyloides (Germar, 1818).

A male Otho sphondyloides (Germar, 1818).

Otho sphondyloides (Germar, 1818), larva.

Fond of the area, we decided to go next time to the Naszály, a hill located near the Danube Bend (Dunakanyar). Anytime we go there, we encounter incredible rarities and novelties. I was there this April, as some of the photos show, when Idolus picipennis (Bach, 1852) was knocked from linden trees. In Hungary this click beetle occurs mainly in the Bükk Mountains.

The pupa of this Oplosia cinerea (Mulsant, 1839) was also collected in April. A few weeks later its imago emerged.

In the northern part of the forest, where beech trees grow many saproxylic species find refuge. I climbed up there while my trip mates were collecting beetles where oak was prominent. I was knocking dry and fungus-infested branches. As a result Dircaea australis Fairmaire, 1856 came up. I had formerly examined all the four specimens stored in the Coleoptera Collection many times. Two of them were collected in the 2000s, the other two have no data. I never expected to find this beautiful beetle.

Hylis cariniceps (Reitter, 1902).

Isorhipis melasoides (Laporte, 1835).

Specimens of Ulorhinus bilineatus (Germar, 1818) were moving briskly on logs lying in shady patches.

Neither did my trip mates idle their time away, but were chasing Akimerus schaefferi (Laicharting, 1784) and …

Purpuricenus kaehleri (Linnaeus, 1758) flying around in a Turkey oak stand.

In the canopy click beetles, such as Prosternon chrysocomum (Germar, 1843) were active too.

We caught sight of Chlorophorus hungaricus Seidlitz, 1871 specimens feeding on prostrate canary clover (Dorycnium germanicum) growing on roadside verge on our way home.

At the following weekend, we were hunting beetles with Attila Kotán in the western part of Hungary and in the area of the Balaton Uplands. We just intended to make this trip as a "lay-down-nets ceremony" that would close the exceptionally long season, but we had so many findings that I decided to go back again with colleagues from the museum the following week. The season was still not coming to an end.

As we left early we were snooping around already in the morning in a remote forest of the county Vas in western Hungary. We dissected tree logs covered by fungi, while being invaded by mosquitoes.

Thambus friwaldszkyi Bonvouloir, 1871 is a tiny species known to occur only in very few places in Hungary.

Nematodes filum (Fabricius, 1801).

To encounter the endangered Osmoderma eremita (Scopoli, 1763) is always marvellous. Only very few stable populations are left due to deforestation and unscrupulous collecting. We managed to take some pics of this huge beetle that is surprisingly brisk compared to its size then it took off emitting a characteristic odour reminiscent of apricot.

We spent the evening on a familiar wood pasture that was a pleasure to see again. Some species were found though it was raining.

In the middle of the summer large longicorns and lamellicorns emerge.

Lucanus cervus cervus
(Linnaeus, 1758) – greater stag beetle.

Prionus coriarius (Linnaeus, 1758) – tanner beetles.

Cerambyx cerdo Linnaeus, 1758 – great capricorn betle.

Great diving beetle, Dytiscus marginalis Linnaeus, 1758 was light-trapped at night.

The other day we looked around in an oakwood on an abandoned military field near Tapolca, in the area of Balaton Uplands. We hoped to capture Farsus dubius (Piller et Mitterpacher, 1783).  Aside from two specimens collected there by Péter Bartha in 1993, now stored in the museum, one specimen was found in Baranya county in southern Hungary in 1987 by József Sár. Last year we also tried to find it but with no success. Later a Czech colleague informed us that this beetle is active at night around hollows of logs covered by fungi.

Fallen oak tree. Numerous beetle species were discovered under the bark attacked by fungi.
Promising crumbs of rotten wood knocked down onto a white sheet were watched little by little. 

Dead specimens were found in the soft and loose parts.

Pupal chamber is surrounded by the typical fungus ring.

  Despite late summer some of the exit holes contained young live specimens just emerged.

Thorough and unwearied pursuit was finally successful: Farsus dubius (Piller et Mitterpacher, 1783).

There is a substantial difference in size between the sexes. While females are more than one centimetre long, length of males is not more than three millimetres.

Trees invaded by fungi attract other species of false click beetles. Remains of a Dromaeolus barnabita (A. et J. B. Villa, 1838) and a small beetle that was not to be identified until arriving to the museum were found. The previously unidentifiable specimen turned out to be a specimen of Clypeorhagus clypeatus (Hampe, 1850), first collected in 2004 by Gábor Hegyessy in the park of Mágócs Castle, Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county.

Clypeorhagus clypeatus
(Hampe, 1850).

Its larva was also found in the decaying wood.

Drapetes mordelloides (Host, 1789) develops on trees exposed to the sun, colonized by fungus.

One and a half week later we set out on a trip to collect for fun, with higher ratio of female participants to men.

Large wolf spiders, Hogna radiata were running around among tussocks turning yellow under drought.

A dozen of specimens of the rare and protected darkling beetle  Cryphaeus cornutus (Fischer de Waldheim, 1823) were found hiding under bark.

It was certainly a peculiar experience to see such a crowd of the two rare species.

To be protected from the hot sunlight Chrysolina cerealis alternans (Panzer, 1799) also seeks shelter under bark.

Cerambyx cerdo Linnaeus, 1758 likes the woman’s touch.

There is an old wood pasture situated close to the site just discovered. Last year, when we first came here, a large population of Cerambyx welensii Küster, 1846 was discovered.

So, the denouement of this trip is that we must come back again, because this place is expected to have even more surprises. We set out for town with satisfaction.

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