Black Headed Cardinal Beetle

This cheery chap is a Black Headed Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa coccinea). They used to be rare in Surrey and Hampshire but now you’re much more likely to see one whizz past you in a blaze of scarlet. That’s what happened to me, and I tracked him until he landed and posed for me. His red-headed cousin is even more common.

They are predatory beetles, feeding on other insects. Their flattened larvae are adapted to live under the bark of trees. I saw this one at Home Farm wildlife reserve in Hampshire.

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16 thoughts on “Black Headed Cardinal Beetle

  1. Are these the beetles they make cochineal dye from? He really is a very beautiful colour – and those gorgeous accessories – black legs and antennae!!

  2. Found quite a few of his red-headed cousin Pyrochria serraticornis on Sunday at Langford Lakes in Wiltshire. I found both in my garden last year. The black headed version is my favourite though. Reminds me of a Grenadier guard.

  3. Marc are the P. coccinea rare in Wiltshire? Apparently they were very rare a century or so ago but the populations have bounced back in certain areas (Surrey and Hampshire, for instance). Not sure about Wiltshire though, I think you’re still lucky to see one in most parts of the country.

      • I contacted the Hampshire county recorder with this one as I read that they were rare, and was a little crestfallen to hear that they’re quite common now. šŸ˜€ They still wanted to log the sighting and have the grid reference for it though. They do like to hear when you spot something a little unusual, as they can keep their records up to date.

  4. Pingback: Red-headed Cardinal Beetle | The Foraging Photographer

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