Bee beetles: a curious coincidence

August 13th 2017

The bee beetle Trichius fasciatus is a striking member of the chafer family, 12mm or more long, with wing-cases boldly patterned in yellow and black and much of the rest of the body covered in golden hair. It bears a strong resemblance to a bee and is also said to buzz in flight; the whole effect is presumably a form of protective mimicry.

By a curious coincidence both David Haines and George Morrison saw and photographed examples locally on 13th July 2017, David at Rhicarn and George at Feadan, about half a kilometre to the south- west. There is just one previous, rather vague, record for this area, localised only to NC03; both of these recent records are in NC02. The bee beetle is largely confined to Wales and Scotland and these three records are the furthest north that it has so far been recorded in the British Isles.

The larvae are reported as developing in ‘mouldy’ birch stumps, where wood-rotting fungi have been active (and adding to the nutritive content of the wood). I have not yet located a detailed account of the natural history of the species, but since they are probably quite strong fliers, it is possible that several adults had emerged from a batch of pupae in the same tree. The details of their markings show that they were separate individuals; what would we do without digital cameras/camera phones?

Ian M. Evans

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