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Large Pine Weevil  Andy

The Pine Weevil right is a harmful pest in UK forests, the eggs are laid in the stumps of felled conifers from which the larvae then feed and the adult beetles will feed on the bark of the replacement young conifer plants.


A Weevil beetle attacking a hawk moth caterpillar
When I was a teenager I reared hawk moths and sold them to butterfly farms and other collectors, but I would always release many surplus stock back into the wild. On one occasion I was releasing some almost full grown hawk moth caterpillars onto trees when I noticed a large weevil beetle hanging upside down from its two back legs. It had its two front legs out straight in a crucifix position, it was motionless and looked very strange. It was hanging from the bottom horizontal branch of a tall poplar tree, low to the ground. I guessed it was waiting for something. So I thought it would be a good idea to place one of my large hawk moth caterpillars in front of the beetle, as the caterpillar was so much larger I thought I could rescue it if anything happened.

Well I placed the caterpillar close to the beetle, next the beetles outstretched legs wrapped around the caterpillars body and sunk in deep and then the beetle ran it long snout up and down the caterpillars body, the caterpillar split open and turned almost inside out, to my horror this all happened in a second, and the beetle was rewarded with a free meal. The beetle was in an ideal position to wait for a large caterpillar climbing down the branch to pupate into the ground. I did not keep the weevil beetle for identification but I have always thought it to be this species or something very similar to the beetle I photographed above. The clever weevil beetle had probably been waiting patiently in this position for many days, for an unsuspecting insect to walk over it. In an almost a dormant state it is using up less energy, otherwise spent looking for prey and also safer for the beetle being eaten by a predator. So next time if I ever see a beetle hanging upside down I might test its strength with my little finger, ouch! or maybe not.

 

Large Pine Weevil Beetle(Hylobius Abietis)

Location: Eastleigh, Hampshire, UK.