Chrysolina Leaf Beetles in Nottinghamshire
     
Chrysolina leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae) are fairly conspicuous by nature and colouration. There are a total of 18 Chrysolina species in the UK, nearly half of which are classed as RDB or Nationally notable species. As their name implies, they are all leaf feeding species and often readily found by carefully searching low foliage.

As with finding many leaf beetles, any success depends on searching the correct plants and/or in the correct habitat. Sweeping is probably the most efficient method, but careful examination of foliage can be equally successful, if not more time consuming.

The eggs are elongated and oval shaped, usually laid singly or in small groups on the host plant and the developing larvae are grub-like. Pupation takes place either on the host plant or at ground level in leaf litter.

 
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Over-wintering is mostly as adults and we have found several examples of Chrysolina polita spending the Winter underneath loose bark of felled Willow logs at Eakring Meadows NR (shown below) often in company with other beetles such as Pterostichus niger, Pterostichus nigrita (Carabidae) and Silpha atrata (Silphidae).
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  The only other Chrysolina we have ever recorded during the Winter months, was an adult Chrysolina oricalcia found wandering in Sherwood Forest Country Park on a mild night at the end of November 2008.

Known UK Chrysolina species and their current status

The following list of species, are currently on the UK coleoptera list. Chrysolina americana, C.banksi, C.brunsvicensis, C.caerulans, C.cerealis, C.fastuosa, C.graminis, C.haemoptera, C.herbacea, C.hyperici, C.intermedia, C.marginata, C.oricalcia, C.polita, C.sanguinolenta, C.staphylaea, C.varians, and C.violacea.

The rarer Chrysolina are shown with their currently assigned designations in the table below.

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Nottinghamshire's Chrysolina list totals eight species, which includes - C.americana, C.brunsvicensis, C.fastuosa, C.hyperici, C.oricalcia, C.polita, C.staphylaea and C.violacea. All of these, with the exception of the recent addition of C. americana, were listed by J.W. Carr in his book "The Invertebrate Fauna of Nottinghamshire" (1916)  
RDB1 . RDB2 . Na . Nb
C. cerealis . C. intermedia . C. graminis . C. haemoptera
. ... . . C. marginata . C. oricalcia
. .. . . C. sanguinolenta . C. violacea
. . . . ... . .
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By the end of 2012, we had managed to locate and photograph six of the seven Chrysolina species which occur in Nottinghamshire. At the bottom of this page, we have included images of Chrysolina banksi, a large beetle which has yet to occur in Nottinghamshire, but is very likely at some point in time.
 
Chrysolina americana (Linnaeus, 1758)
This is a stunning and beautiful beetle, showing a rainbow like colouration when viewed closely, although at first glance, this beetle appears dark brown. Chrysolina americana is another invertebrate that has appeared in the UK only relatively recently. Despite its Latin name, this beetle does not originate from America, but was originally a southern European species. It first appeared in the UK in the 1990's and has steadily spread north since. Nottinghamshire's first records seem to have occurred in 2009 from sites in Nottingham and Newark. This was a beetle we had looked for during the last few years and our first record came when six adults were found in the courtyard of the old Edwinstowe Craft Centre, now home to the Sherwood Forest Trust on 01/06/11. The adults are around 8-9mm and can potentially be found on Rosemary, Lavender and other herbs.
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Chrysolina fastuosa (Scopoli, 1763)
Chrysolina fastuosa is a stunning beetle and a species which, despite some people telling us it's common, it certainly does'nt seem to be. Despite knowing of one site at Shelford in the Trent Valley where it can be found on White Dead-nettle (Lamium album) we searched everywhere we went for nearly two years, before finding numerous adults on Common Hemp Nettle (Galeopsis tetrahit) growing by the River Meden in early July 2011.
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Chrysolina hyperici (Forster, 1771)
A common UK species, Chrysolina hyperici is a beautifully coloured metallic beetle. The adults can be found wherever St John's Wort (Hypericum sp) grows, eating the flowers and resting amongst the flower heads during the day. We have found adults at Warsop Main Pit Top, Bevercotes Pit Wood, Gedling Pit Top, Sherwood Forest CP, Clipstone Old Quarter and Budby South Forest and it is generally very common where it occurs. Probably most former colliery sites will host them. Length around 7mm. Historically, this beetle has been recorded from South Leverton (Thornley) Barrow Hills, Everton (Chamberlin 1905) and Cuckney Hay Wood in 1914.
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Chrysolina oricalcia (Müller, O.F., 1776)
Chrysolina oricalcia seems to be a common species where it occurs, but it is restricted in Nottinghamshire. We have only found it occasionally at a few areas of Sherwood Forest CP and at nearby Clipstone Old Quarter. Despite being around 9mm in length, this is not always that easy a species to spot on the stems of Cow Parsley. It seems that like most Chrysolinas, the adults over-winter (probably underneath loose bark or in leaf litter) as we found an adult climbing the trunk of an Oak, during a moth-trapping session at Sherwood Forest CP on November 28th 2008.
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Chrysolina polita (Linnaeus, 1758)
A fairly common species, Chrysolina polita is found fairly regularly in the Eakring area on low-growing vegetation, usually around areas of White dead-Nettle (Lamium album). About 9mm in length, it's bright colouration makes it quite conspicuous when sitting on the upper surface of leaves on sunny days. Over-wintering adults have been found several times under the loose bark of felled Willow logs at Eakring Meadows NR. Uncommon at Sherwood Forest and only recently discovered there for the first time in 2009. C. polita seems to have been quite widely recorded historically in Nottinghamshire, with J.W. Carr quoting records from some 15 sites, ranging from Misson in the very north of the county, through to Cotgrave south of Nottingham.
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Chrysolina staphylaea (Linnaeus, 1758)
Chrysolina staphylaea is sometimes more commonly known as the Brown Willow Beetle. This seems a fairly large Chrysolina species, with the one pictured measuring 9.5mm. Our only records are from Sherwood Forest CP in early June 2009 and at Cuckney Hay Wood in October 2012. Historical records of C. staphylaea have come from Retford district (Thornley and Pegler) South Leverton, Barrow Hills at Everton, Nottingham district (Ryles and Dodd) and Tollerton (Robinson 1914)
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Chrysolina banksi (Fabricius, 1775)
This large and conspicuous Chrysolina is currently not known from anywhere in Nottinghamshire, but does have the potential to occur here. During an invertebrate survey of a former landfill site at Dartford, Kent in September 2012, singles or mating pairs were regularly found on concrete walls around the site. Adults can be found on their hostplants which are Black Horehound (Ballota nigra) and Narrow-leaved Plantain (Plantago lanceolata).
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