Rhagonycha limbata Thomson, C.G., 1864

A generally common species throughout mainland UK with records to the far north of Scotland including the Isle of Wight, Anglesey, Man, the Western Scottish isles (but not north or south Uist, Harris or Lewis) and Orkney (NBN). Typically occuring in open grassland on dry soils (Alexander) this species is common, and often abundant, throughout our Watford area in a variety of habitats including parkland, wasteland, wood borders and, frequently, in town centre gardens. Adults appear early in May when we have recorded them on Crataegus flowers and umbels, and remain common until mid or late July depending on season. Sweeping grass or umbel flowers in about any situation locally is likely to produce the species.

4.5-6mm (Joy). Small and distinctive soldier beetles readily identified by the combination of black head, bicolored pronotum and almost entirely black femora, the similar R.testacea has yellow femora. Head, including clypeus, black although the clypeal margin is sometimes lighter. Sparsely and finely punctured and pubescent, somewhat dull due to microsculpture. Eyes convex and protruding, temples narrowed to base. Terminal segment of maxillary palps dark, basal segments testaceous or dark. Antennae proportionally long, black with basal segments lighter. Pronotum slightly transverse (7:6), front and hind angles rounded, lateral margins parallel. Convex, variously impressed inside front and hind angles. Testaceous with characteristic dark mark which (usually) does not reach front or hind margin (as it does in R.testacea), a melanic form is known in which the margins are dark but here the darker central mark is distinct. Sparsely and finely punctate and pubescent, dull, more so than head due to microsculpture which is just visible at X20. Scutellum black. Elytra testaceous, strongly granulate and completely covering abdomen, finely punctate and with pale, semi-erect pubescence. Mid and hind femora black or very dark but for apex. front femora darkened but often much less so than others. Tibiae testaceous or obscurely darkened, tarsi dark. Third tarsal segment widened towards apex but not bilobed. Claws split longitudinally.

Description from 4 Watford specimens X20

See ID Aids for a key to the family