Malthodes minimus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common throughout southern Britain, more local and scattered north of south Yorkshire to the scottish borders. Further north there a few records from Highland and Moray (Alexander). Generally an insect of woodland, the larvae probably develop in decaying wood (Alexander), but locally we have recorded it from various habitats; at MV light against a vertical sheet in Whippendell wood, swept nocturnally from long grass in Cassiobury park and swept from the water meadows at Sarrat Bottom. Perhaps surprising that we have never found the species on flowers when considering the amount of sampling we do in all local habitats. Adults occur from May to August and seem to be, at least locally, mostr abundant during late June and early July.

2.5-3.5mm. Antennae dark with 2 or 3 basal segments light, generally yellow, segment 2 shorter than 3, pubescent throughout and inserted into raised round sockets near inside margin of eyes. Palpi yellow, terminal segment darker or black, oval and pointed. Head black with eyes prominent, more so in male, temples rounded. Mandibles smooth on inner surface (toothed in Malthinus spp.). With fine forwardly recumbent pubescence throughout. Pronotum slightly transverse, bordered on front and hind margins and with traces of a lateral border anteriorly, view from side. Finely punctate and pubescent (X50), generally testaceous with disc variously darkened, at least the angles are usually broadly yellow but entirely testaceous ar dark specimens occur. Elytra short, exposing part of wings and abdomen, without striae and transversly rugose throughout. Dark with light, generally yellow, apices and semi-recumbent pubescence. Legs long and slender, femora darkened, often extensively so, tibiae pale. Claws weakly toothed towards base.

Description from 2 Watford specimens at X20

Closely similar to M.fuscus (Waltl.) and there is an overlap in colouration. The females can be separated by measuring the length to width (at shoulders) ratio of the elytra, in minimus it is less than 2.25:1, in fuscus at least 2.3:1 (Fitton). In male Malthodes the terminal abdominal segments, when viewed from the side, are diagnostic; the diagrams below illustrate the difference between minimus and fuscus (from Fitton 1973, after Reitter). When examining specimens the wings may need to be moved and the abdomen, being soft in life, may not have set flat.

minimus

fuscus

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