Although I am convinced that the creatures mating on my fritillaries are lily beetles, you do need to be careful as there are other red beetles around at the moment that look similar.
I was lucky to spot a Cardinal Beetle on the footpath walk to the local shops.
There are two common Cardinal Beetles, the Red-headed Pyrochroa serraticornis and the less widespread Black-headed Pyrochroa coccinea which is still considered common here in the South East of England.
I was pretty sure this creature wasn't a lily beetle but I began to doubt myself when I looked back at the photos so I'm grateful to Ian Beavis (https://twitter.com/iancbeavis) for the confirmation. "The Cardinal Beetle is much bigger (at least a couple of mm!) and the wing case is more of a matt red rather than ladybird red." You can see them from April to June when they lay eggs in and around area of dead bark usually on fallen trees (exactly where I found this Black-headed Cardinal Beetle!) and the adults feed on other flying insects while the larvae predate on other insect larvae.
Talking of ladybirds, I must confess that I hadn't thought of them as being beetles. So that led to an internet search for other Red Beetles and up popped the Common Red Soldier Beetle - Rhagonycha fulva. I remember these as "Bloodsuckers" (although there's no evidence of them sucking any human blood). They are thinner than Cardinals and appear much later in the year, feeding on other insects visiting the flower they are resting on as well as eating nectar and pollen. This photo was taken last July on the same footpath.
This was one of the factors that has encouraged me to speak out more through my drawings and this blog.
If I had known then what I know now
I would have started this diary years ago
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