Where To Find Beetles  Back to county index  Back to species index


Doubtless because of its proximity to continental Europe, Kent is home to many nationally rare beetles, including a dozen or so species found nowhere else in the British Isles.

East Kent (VC 15)

On the Isle of Sheppey, the spectacular bumble-bee mimicking rove beetle Emus hirtus [RDB1] (Staphylinidae) has its British headquarters, especially at the Elmley RSPB reserve, where with great luck it may be found running in the open or on fresh dung near grazing cattle or sheep, mainly between August and October. It has also been found at the Rye Street reserve on the Hoo Peninsula to the west of Sheppey. By sweeping saltmarsh vegetation at Harty Ferry (TR 0165), in July, you may find Malachius vulneratus [RDB3] (Melyridae) and Baris scolopacea [RDB3] (Curculionidae). All British records of the ground beetle Acupalpus elegans [Extinct] (Carabidae) are from Kent, but there have been none for almost half a century. It should be looked for in saltmarshes in the summer, such as on the Isle of Sheppey or at Stoke Junction, where the last British record was of one found in 1952.

East Kent is associated with several nationally rare weevils. Suspected to be only an introduction, the weevil Gronops inaequalis [RDBK] (Curculionidae) is only found at one site in the British Isles, a rubbish tip near Gillingham (???), where it is found at the roots of Hastate Orache Atriplex prostrata in August. In the British Isles the weevil Apion dispar [RDB3] (Apionidae) is only found on Stinking Chamomile Anthemis cotula, and possibly related species, on disturbed ground at ?????, where it should be looked for in August. The weevil Hypera pastinacae [RDB1] (Curculionidae) is also confined to this area in the British Isles, being found on Wild Carrot Daucus carota on coastal cliffs at ????, in August-September. At Hinxhill, near Ashford (TR 0543), the rare weevil Liparus germanus [RDB2] (Curculionidae) has been found at roots of Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium, in July. In the British Isles this species may now be confined to Kent, although it formerly occurred in Surrey and Sussex. The flea weevil Rhynchaenus populicola [RDBK] (Curculionidae) is probably widespread in woods in northeast Kent, where it is found on Grey Poplar Populus ??? in the summer and autumn.

Ham Street Woods are renowned for their rare Lepidoptera, but the site has hosted a number of rare beetles as well. Labidostomis tridentata [RDB1] (Chrysomelidae) occurred here up until 1951, but has not been found since anywhere in the British Isles. The species is associated with young birch Betula saplings, where adults should be sought from May to July. Lagria atripes [RDB1] (Tenebrionidae) was found at Orlestone Forest up until 1963.

The last British records of the oil beetles Meloe cicatricosus {RDB1] and M. variegatus [Extinct] (Meloidae) were from the Margate area, in 1906 and 1882 respectively. Sadly both species are almost certainly now extinct in this country.

The vast triangular shingle expanse of Dungeness in the southeast of the county is famed for a number of nationally rare beetles. Here the curious ground/water beetle Omophron limbatum [RDB1] (Carabidae) may be found in burrows at the edges of gravel pits and should be sought from May to October. This species also occurs at Rye in Sussex, but nowhere else in the British Isles. In 1987 a single example of Bembidion argenteolum [RDBK] (Carabidae) was found at Dungeness, but no further examples have occurred and it may have been just a casual importation or temporary resident. The species is otherwise only known from the shores of Lough Neagh (N. Ireland), where it was last found in 1923. Dromius vectensis [RDB3] (Carabidae) is also found here and should be sought in litter and under stones during the summer months. The only post-1970 record of Hister quadrimaculatus [RDBK] (Histeridae) in the British Isles is from a pitfall trap at Dungeness. The easily disturbed flea beetle Dibolia cynoglossi [RDB1] (Chrysomelidae) is to be found here on hemp-nettle Galeopsis and hound's-tongue Cynoglossum growing on shingle, where it should be sought from April to September. As with Omophron limbatum, the only other site for this species in the British Isles is not far away at Rye Harbour in Sussex.

The click beetle Adrastus rachifer [RDB1] (Elateridae) is confined to East Kent in the British Isles. It occurs at ???? and may be sought by beating hedges and sweeping clifftop vegetation in August.

The area between Canterbury and the Isle of Thanet has several rare beetles. On sunny days in the summer the Great Silver Water Beetle Hydrophilus piceus [RDB3] (Hydrophilidae) may be seen surfacing in a pool viewable from a boardwalk by the car park at Stodmarsh NNR. Pennipot Wood, near Canterbury, is the last recorded site in the British Isles for the subcortical histerid Paromalus parallelepipedus [RDB1] (Histeridae), where a single example was found in 1952. At Blean Woods, the rove beetle Xylodromus testaceus [RDB1] (Staphylinidae) was found in 1913 and 1950, these being the only records of this species anywhere in the British Isles since the 19th Century, while the tenebrionid Lagria atripes [RDB1] (Tenebrionidae) occurred here up until 1948. Nearby at Church Wood, Blean, is the only site where the flea beetle Longitarsus longiseta [RDBK] (Chrysomelidae) has been recorded in the British Isles, also from just one example found in October 1951. Although possibly only a casual introduction here, it may be worth looking for it by sweeping low plants such as plantain Plantago in this area. Another flea beetle, Psylliodes attenuata [RDB1] (Chrysomelidae), may still occur in areas where Hop Humulus lupulus is grown commercially, and should be sought from April to June.

The sand dunes and foreshore of Sandwich Bay and Deal are sites for a number of nationally rare beetles. Sadly three of these are probably now extinct: the last British records of Polyphylla fullo [Extinct] (Scarabaeidae) in 1902, Lixus vilis [RDB1] (Curculionidae) in 1905 and Dyschirius extensus [RDB1] (Carabidae) in 1940, were all from this area. With luck, the click beetle Melanotus punctolineatus [RDB1] (Elateridae) may still be found in sandpits along this coast, from spring to early autumn, here at its only known site in the British Isles.

West Kent (VC 16)

Several ground beetles (Carabidae) are especially associated with West Kent. The last confirmed recorded of Callistus lunatus [RDB1] in the British Isles is from Shoreham in 1953. This species is found in chalk grassland and should be sought in the spring or late autumn. There is also a 1942 record of Amara fusca [RDB1] from Swanley, but it was probably only ever a casual there.

The Great Silver Water Beetle Hydrophilus piceus [RDB3] (Hydrophilidae) is probably widespread in drainage channels and ponds on the North Kent Marshes.

The cucujid Leptophloeus clematidis [RDB1] (Cucujidae) was formerly known from three localities in northwest Kent but has not been seen in the county for many years.

Knole Park near Sevenoaks is one of only three sites in the British Isles for the anobiid Gastrallus immarginatus [RDB1] (Anobiidae), which is associated with ancient Field Maples Acer campestre. This is also a known site for Synchita separanda [RDB3] (Colydiidae). The species is found in fungus-infected dead wood in the summer.

Cobham Park is the only definite site in the British Isles for the pselaphid Euplectus brunneus [RDB1] (Pselaphidae), where it was last recorded in 1943. This species should be sought under bark, possibly with ants.

Mordellistena neuwaldeggiana [RDBK] (Mordellidae) has been swept at Oaken Wood (TQ 7154) in July.

The weevil Anthonomus chevrolati [RDBK] was formerly widespread in southern England but has not been reported in the British Isles since 1966 when it was found at East Malling. However, adults are mainly winter-active and this may have resulted in it being overlooked. The species is associated with hawthorn Crataegus in cultivated areas.

Another probable introduction, the weevil Lixus scabricollis [RDBK] (Curculionidae) may be found at roots of Sea Beet Beta vulgaris maritima on the north shore of the Isle of Grain, in the autumn. The flea weevil Rhynchaenus populicola [RDBK] (Curculionidae) is frequent southeast of Maidstone, especially on Crack Willow Salix fragilis from March to December.

County recorder: E.G. Philp, 6 Vicarage Close, Aylesford, Kent ME20 7BB

Further reading
HANCE, D. 1998 Gastrallus immarginatus Müller (Anobiidae), Prionus coriarius (Linnaeus) (Cerambycidae) and other notable beetles at Knole Park, West Kent  Coleopterist 7(3): 98.
WILLIAMS, S.A. 1999. Recent records of Emus hirtus (Linnaeus) (Staphylinidae) on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent  Coleopterist 8(3): 112.