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Spotting Pot Beetles

Pot beetles are a fascinating and charismatic group of leaf beetles that are very rare in Scotland! The Spotting Pot Beetles project is raising awareness of Pot beetles through workshops and surveys.

Pot beetles are amazing insects within the leaf beetle family (Chrysomelidae). These beetles get their common name from the protective shell-like ‘pot’ that the larvae live in, created using their own droppings. The other key feature of these beetles is that the head of the adults is hidden under their bulging pronotum, which is the source of the scientific name for the genus Cryptocephalus meaning ‘hidden head’.

There are currently 19 species of Cryptocephalus pot beetles in the UK, however many of these have suffered declines in their distribution and are now quite rare. This project will run surveys to assess known sites in Scotland for the Ten-spotted pot beetle (Cryptocephalus decemmaculatus) and Six-spotted pot beetle (Cryptocephalus sexpunctatus); both of which are a UK Biodiveristy Action plan priority species and on the Scottish Biodiveristy List.


Ten-spotted pot beetle (Cryptocephalus decemmaculatus) is yellow with black spots and is typically found in damp, deciduous woodland and is specifically associated with willow and birch. This species of beetle has an extremely localised distribution in the UK with only a single known site in England. In Scotland, this species has historic records at five sites, although it has been recorded at only two of these since 1980, and only one of these (in Perthshire) has multiple records and detailed location information.


Six-spotted pot beetle (Cryptocephalus sexpunctatus) is reddish-yellow with black spots and has been found on a number of plant species including Aspen (Populus tremula), Crack willow (Salix fragilis), Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and young oak (Quercus species). This species has an extremely localised distribution in the UK with only one known site in Scotland and one known site in England that has had no sightings since 2003. 


This project will assess the Scottish populations of all these two species of Pot beetle by running two survey days with volunteers. Additionally this project will run training workshops on an introduction to leaf beetles and how to survey them. For more information on these events look at the Buglife events webpage.


This project is funded by Scottish Natural Heritage.  

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