Scarlet Endomychus or False Ladybird
Biological name: Endomychus coccineus
It is one of the ‘Handsome Fungus Beetles’ (Endomychidae)
This small to medium-sized beetle is found in most of Europe, in deciduous forests (forests where trees drop their leaves in the autumn).
Like January’s beetle of the month: The Resin Weevil, it can be found hibernating in winter, including February (hibernating means it sleeps through the cold months) and can sometimes be found resting underneath the bark on very old trees. If you find a large stack of old logs, you might be lucky enough to find some there if you live in Europe. It particularly likes stumps of birch or beech trees, but sometimes is found under ash bark too.
It resembles the familiar ladybird, or ladybug as they’re called in the USA, but in fact it is not from that family of beetles, but is a close relative.
It measures 4 to 6mm in length (excluding the antennae), and can be found on fungi or under fungoid bark (tree bark where fungi grow).
What do you know about metamorphosis?
Beetles are insects which have different stages in their life cycles, from egg to larva, to pupa to adult. In each stage the creature looks very different indeed, and it remains one of life’s great mysteries how these processes operate.
On the right, you can see a picture of the larval stage of the False Ladybird. It looks nothing at all like the adult. You can see the adult in the bottom-right for comparison. It is worth noting that the larvae are more or less the same size as the adults, approx. 4 to 6 mm.
The larva actually looks much more like a Woodlouse (Roly-poly) when you first see it, but we know that insects have 6 legs, borne as 3 pairs, whereas a woodlouse has 7 pairs (14 legs).
We can see here on the underside of the larva that there are clearly 3 pairs of legs, which tells us it is an insect.
We are all familiar with caterpillars, and we know that caterpillars turn into butterflies, or indeed into moths.
But how many of us take the time to wonder about beetles, and their young?
There is a whole natural world outside to explore, with so much to learn.
We recommend you find somewhere outside and go look to see what you can find!
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