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Silpha atrata


16 Feb 2019
- Early dates for Black Snail Beetle (Silpha atrata)

Robert MacPherson found this beetle on 1 Feb, rooting among the moss on a log in his woodpile at Barcaldine. 


Then on 16 Feb, Toby Acton found 2 of them in rotten wood at Port Appin.

Silpha atrata

Silpha atrata

The lower picture shows the underside of the beetles and you can just about make out their long narrow heads which they push into snail shells in order to eat the snails.  The photo also shows the Common Shiny Woodlouse (Oniscus asellus, left) and the Common Rough Woodlouse (Porcellio scaber, right) which were in the rotten wood with the beetles.

Our previous S atrata records were all in the period March-May apart from one outlier in August.  The Watford Coleoptera Group page on this beetle says "Large numbers can be found in January and February and later, during the first warm days in March, can be seen crawling on trunks or logs in the open. After April or May, depending on season, they are seldom seen".  It will be interesting to see how their life cycle compares in this part of the world, when we have enough data.

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Video Robert MacPherson, photos Carl Farmer.  Mouse over photos/videos to see credits and other details.