Othius punctulatus (Goeze, 1777)

This is the Othius fulvipennis (Fab.) in older literature. Widely distributed; the latest NBN map (August, 2009) shows widely scattered records throughout mainland UK although there are gaps; central Wales, the west country and northern England; there is a single Western Isles record (Skye) and it has been recorded from Shetland (Fowler). Joy states simply 'common' without regional qualification while Fowler states 'common and generally distributed, more local in the north and rather scarce in Scotland'. This large and unmistakeable rove beetle occurs commonly throughout our Watford area in a wide range of habitats, mostly terrestrial and seemingly indifferent to the moisture content eg under logs or among leaf litter and moss; we have extracted them from wet reed litter and pondside debris at Radlett road (April) and found them beneath birch logs among long dry grass in Cassiobury park (July). We have found adults under dead beech bark near ground level in Whiuppendell wood and they were present in numbers, along with thousands of other staphs, among wet, decaying and strongly ammoniacal terrestrial bracket fungi in deep shade along the canal margins by West Herts golf course (October/November). In general they are likely to occur in any situation rich in decaying vegetation eg they occur in piles of decaying grass cuttings in town centre gardens, but in hot weather they are active further afield both by day and at night; they are common under the sodium lamps at Radlett road and we occasionally find them on the Cassiobury park pathways by torchlight. They are likely to occur in pitfall traps in most situations. With the exception of August we have recorded them each month from February to November.

9-14mm. Head and pronotum black or pitchy, elytra red, abdomen black with terminal segment(s) lighter, legs red. Head and pronotum glabrous, elytra and abdomen with fine, backwardly recumbent golden pubescence. Head parallel and slightly elongate and as wide as, or almost as wide as, pronotum, this varies. Surface shiny with microsculpture barely discernable at X20. Vertex impunctate, with large punctures laterally and along base. Two punctures between eyes, in front of these the surface is obliquely raised to antennal insertions. Eyes small and barely protruding from outline of head, temples long with rounded hind angles. Mandibles and palps testaceous, last segment of maxillary palps as long as penulimate. Mandibles protruding, antennae inserted between their outer margin. Antennae red, scape as long as segments 2-4 combined, third segment longer than second, 6-8 quadrate or nearly so, 9 and 10 weakly transverse. Pronotum elongate (4:3), basal and lateral margins with a fine border which goes around the front angles. Surface shiny and finely microsculptured, as head, with a large anterior and posterior setiferous puncture either side of middle and a few inside the rounded front angles. Scutellum shiny black, impunctate but strongly microsculptured. Elytra quadrate, surface randomly and quite strongly punctured, suture simple (not overlapping) with surface raised either side. Abdomen with strongly raised side borders, surface finely and sparingly punctured, microsculpture obvious at X20. Legs red. Mesotibiae with strong spines along outer side from base, metatibiae with spines in apical half. All tibiae with a large spine inside at apex as well as other smaller spines. Three basal segments of protarsi dilated in both sexes. Tarsi 5-5-5, basal segment of meso and metatarsi longer than second segment. Claws smooth, not, or only very weakly, toothed at base.
(Male with the seventh ventral segment of hind body truncate or scarcely emarginate, with a smooth space before apex, segment of armature projecting and deeply emarginate- Fowler)

Description from 5 Watford specimens at X20