Violet Click Beetle

Fast Facts

Latin name: Limoniscus violaceus

Notable feature: A long, thin black beetle with a blue sheen that breeds in the hollows of ancient decaying ash and beech trees.

Conservation Status: Endangered

Where in the UK: In the United Kingdom the Violet Click Beetles is restricted to Windsor Forest (Berkshire), Bredon Hill (Worcestershire) and Dixton Wood (Gloucestershire). The importance of all three sites for the species is reflected in their designations as Special Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)

Violet Click Beetle © Tamas Nemeth

The Violet Click Beetle (Limoniscus violaceus) is a long, thin, native, beetle which is a metallic, deep-blue colour belonging to the Elateridae family.

Violet Click Beetle larvae are also long and thin, and are orange-brown in colour.

The Violet Click Beetle is Globally Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Endangered on the European Red List of Saproxylic Beetles (2018). Listed on Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive. It is also a Section 41 Priority Species in England, and a Red Data Book species.

Like many other rare beetles, the Violet Click Beetle breeds in decaying wood, but it has particular tastes; only breeding in the hollows of Ash and Beech where the heartwood is undisturbed and has decayed into a black mulch, like damp soot .This only occurs in large, ancient trees that are hundreds of years old, which are few and far between; consequently, the Violet Click Beetle is only found in three locations in the UK.

Violet click beetles are thought to breed repeatedly in the same tree until it rots away and the adults fly off to find new breeding sites.

  • Size: Approximately 12mm in length
  • Life span: On average the larvae take 15 to 16 months to develop into adults but development can take over two years in the UK.
  • Diet: Violet Click Beetle larvae feed on wood mould in rotting woody debris at the base of hollows of veteran trees. Suitable trees are those in the most advanced stages of heartwood decay, particularly those more than 200 years old. The diet of adult Violet Click Beetle is unknown but they have been seen at Hawthorn so may feed on pollen or nectar, or else rely on stores laid down during the larval period.
  • Reproduction: Violet Click Beetles breed in the hollows of ancient Ash and Beech trees in parkland and ancient woodland, often using the same tree until it completely rots away.
  • When to see: Adult Violet Click Beetles are thought to be crepuscular (active during twilight) and are particularly active on warm evenings before dusk from April to June.
  • Population Trend: Unknown.  Other than relatively unstructured recording of larvae, or odd encounters with adults, there is no meaningful understanding of the Violet Click Beetles population change in the UK. The beetle’s range and numbers are restricted by the limited extent of suitable trees for larvae to develop. There is no information available on what a favourable population for Violet Click Beetle should be in the UK
  • Threats: Further loss of veteran trees and ancient woodland. The Violet Click Beetle requires the continuous presence of hollowing veteran trees in a landscape. Adult beetles may also suffer from a lack of flowering shrubs in many woodlands near breeding trees
  • Fun Fact: When threatened the adult Violet Click Beetle ‘catapults’ itself away rather than fly, using a peg and groove mechanism on the underside of its thorax!

How you can help: 

Buglife is working to increase awareness of invertebrates and the Violet Click Beetle through specific projects, such as Back from the Brink, and campaigns, but we need your help!

Buglife has received funding from Natural England (in 2023) to better understand the Violet Click Beetle as part of a three-year species recovery project.  The project will develop innovative pheromone survey techniques for both adults and larvae to help better understand Violet Click Beetle populations.

Conservation groups and landowners nearby to known Violet Click Beetle sites can help by maintaining existing veteran trees and providing a continuity of replacement trees into the future.

Join a recording scheme and log your finds – send any records/sightings to the UK Beetle Recording Scheme or download the iRecord app and get recording!

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