Black Oil Beetle
Latin name: Meloe proscarabaeus
Notable feature: Oil beetles are rather strange-looking beetles, their large abdomens protruding from under short elytra (wing cases) – they have been described as looking like some one whose waistcoat won’t button up!
Conservation Status: Not Evaluated
Where in the UK: Found throughout the UK, thought to be becoming less common in the north. Strongholds can be found in South West England and South Wales.
Black Oil Beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus) © Ben Lee
The Black Oil Beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus) is a native oil beetle in the UK. It is shiny black in colour, although some beetles may have a violet-blue sheen. It is very similar in appearance to the Violet Oil Beetle (Meloe violaceus), but has a straight base to the thorax and a very small rounded tooth at the base. Unlike the Violet Oil Beetle, there is also no depressed area at the base of the thorax.
Male beetles have strongly kinked antennae, whilst the females have slightly kinked antennae.
The Black Oil Beetle is most commonly found on wildflower-rich coastal cliff tops and lowland, unimproved grasslands. Occasionally it can be found on woodland sites.
The Black Oil Beetle is a priority species for conservation action in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and identified as Nationally Scarce.
There are 5 species of oil beetle in the UK; 3 are rare in the UK (2 of these are listed as Vulnerable). A further 3 species of oil beetle have become extinct in the UK- Meloe autumnalis, Meloe cicatricosis and Meloe variegatus.
How you can help:
Buglife is working to increase awareness of invertebrates and the Black Oil Beetle through specific projects, such as Life on the Edge, and campaigns, but we need your help!
Join a recording scheme and log your finds – send any records/sightings to the Oil Beetle Recording Scheme or download the iRecord app and get recording!
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