Initially I started vane trapping in Sherrardspark wood to find something different to expand my beetle knowledge and make some records.
This year will be the first time I have deployed vane traps on the same site 2 years in a row. This is partly because I found some pretty cool stuff.
I found Calambus bipustulatus, a species of click beetle (Elateridae) that had only been recorded in the county twice prior, the first record predating both world wars. The most recent be over 30 years ago, by the late Trevor James.
This was cool enough…
Calambus bipustulatus via D.Asaw
Through grubbing some old wood, I was able to find the Tenebrionid: Corticus unicolor. This turned out to be a county first for Hertfordshire, this wasn't totally out of the blue though as it has been gradually moving North and has been found in neighbouring Essex a few months before.
So I had a beetle uncommon to Herts, and a new beetle for Herts…not bad going!
NOTHING could prepare me for what happened next.
I found this...
My initial post on the Beetles facebook group
I tried to key it out to family and I kept coming to Cleridae, but it didn’t match ANYTHING on the list so I called for reinforcements via the Beetles of Britain and Ireland Facebook page.
John Lamin was the first to make a suggestion, yes, I was in the right family and that it could be Dermestoides sanguinicollis.
I asked Trevor, he sounded hopeful, and then I checked with Max Barclay (Guardian of the NHM invert collections) and there was no doubt.
This was it.
This was Dermestoides sanguinicollis, a globally rare beetle and the first specimen to ever be found in the UK.
Dermestoides sanguinicollis Image: D.Asaw
This is the goal that most Coleopterist's aim for, and I had achieved it, by accident after only 3.5 years.
It seems that Dermestoides larvae hide under bark predating larvae of Lymexylon navale. Initially it was believed that they fed on the absolute monster of a longhorn beetle Cerambycix cerdo, but it turns out they just shared the same real estate (old standing oak).
Lymexylon has been found on this site, so there is potential for a viable poulation in regards to predator prey relationships.
This years efforts are to see if there is any evidence of a breeding population or established colony, but adults only appear for a few weeks so are INCREDIBLY difficult to come by.
Infact this species may simply be under recorded in Europe, we don’t really know.
As how it got there, we really have no idea, is it an accidental introduction from imported wood? Has it been there the whole time?
No one seems sure.
Trap 2 has remained in the same spot as it was last year in a hope to catch more of this incredible beetle.
It is perhaps more likely that this was an escapee from some imported logs. Even if this is true, how incredibly lucky was I to find this single example using a non baited trap?
Either way, I lucked out big time!
Max helped me write a paper, if you want to read my first (joint) scientific paper you can reach it here.