Silphidae- The Carrion beetles
There is not much I can do to improve the INCREDIBLE information dispensed by the
Silphidae recording scheme. They have even written a snazzy Key to all the UK species HERE
There is now a newly published, and very affordably priced Book containing, both these and another group of beetles: The Histerids.
Not only does it contain wonderful photographs and keys for all of the UK's species (not just those attracted to light) It also has geographical status and detailed species descriptions! It can be purchased HERE
We have a decent number of species in the UK but only these species routinely occur at light traps.
Instead of reinventing the wheel I have (with permission) posted the resources freely available on the web and will supplement that information accordingly.
In addition to a good dorsal shot try and get the following features in focus to ensure a full species identification can be achieved.
Antennal clubs Hind legs
Necrodes littoralis Vs Nicrophorus humator
Both huge and black these species are often confused with one another, the good news is that they are really easy to separate with practice, with these two the shape of the hind legs and antennae are integral to splitting the two.
Necrodes have longer hind legs with expanded femora, giving a frog-legged appearance, and antennae that appear like a string of beads that gradually expand in size towards the tip.
In comparison, Nicrophorus humator has a less widened hind femora ad had clubbed antennae, like the rest of the more charismatic Nicrophorus.
Long, hind, frog legs
Antennae gradually expanded and bead like
Shorter, standard looking hind legs
May-October & December
This used to be know by its symonym, Silpha atrata however its now formally accepted name (which has been in use in Europe) is P. atrata. It comes in two forms, Red and black
Red and black forms (both pictured)
Protruding rectangular head
Gradually expanded antenna
Orange is the new black
For the remainder of the Nicrophorus I would recommend using
Assuming you have followed the above advice for required photo angles it is a faily straight forward key and is one of the first keys I would recommend to beginners.
Remember to log your findings on irecord
Nicrophorus vespilloides D. Asaw
The odd one out
pronotum wider that long (transverse) with rounded sides
small head in comparison to the body and pronotum
Antennae long and thread like (filliform)
black head and pronotum
Elytra with 4 clear, square, orange markings
Pronotum with punctures of one size
March - April, August, October
On soft soils near fresh water
VERY RARE- please iRecord
An incredibly rare, yet obvious beetle, that famously caused Charles Darwin some grief when collecting.
There are two species of Pangagaeus in the UK, however the other
(P. bipustulatus) has a pronotum that is as wide as long (quadrate) , is associated with dry sandy/gravelly soils, is on average smaller (6.5-7.5mm) and has 2 different puncture sizes on the pronotum