Now is the time of year to look out for the Rugged Oil Beetle Meloe mediterraneus and Oxfordshire can boast being one of this species hotspots in the UK. BugLife, the invertebrate conservation organisation, has been collating distribution data and promoting the conservation of the British oil beetles, all of which are in decline.
|A female Rugged Oil Beetle, Meloe mediterraneus (Family Meloidae)|
- A female oil beetle digs a burrow and fills it with hundered of eggs.
- The eggs hatch and the larvae emerge. These are called triungulia** and exhibit unique co-operative behaviour.
- The larvae gather on flower heads, forming living pyramids so as to enable them to hitch a lift on solitary bees visiting the flowers.
- The bee unwittingly transports its passengers and ultimately with a little luck, they end up in a female bees burrow. At which point they hop off and make themselves at home.
- The larvae eat the eggs of the bee, along with any stores of pollen and nectar.
- The larvae develops in the burrow, eventually emerging as an adult ready to look for a mate.
The short story? The more adult Meloe that are seen then the more bees there are.