Missing carabids: Harpalus calceatus

This has always been a rare carabid in Britain. It was mentioned in Stephens’ Manual (p. 45) “Near Deal [East Kent]: 6” (I guess the 6 refers to June). It was not included by Dawson (1854). Fowler (1887) reports a specimen taken by himself at Bridlington, Yorkshire, in 1879, and also notes that “a single specimen is said to have been taken in 1830 near Swansea by Rev. C. Kuper”. There is an undated specimen in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History from the collection of Philip Harwood (b. 1881/82, d. 17 August 1957) labelled “debris of Tilbury Docks” (TQ67, VC 18); it is not presented in Harwood’s meticulous style (see photo below) so was presumably collected by someone else and can only really be dated as pre-1957. Lindroth (1974) wrote “known in Britain only from single specimens taken in Sussex, Essex and Yorkshire, apparently stragglers”.

I do not know of any further records from Britain. I would summarise the records of this species as follows:

Harpalus calceatus has been recorded from near Swansea, Glamorgan in 1830 (Fowler, 1887), from near Deal, East Kent (Stephens, 1854), from Bridlington, SE Yorkshire in 1879 (Fowler, 1887), from Tilbury Docks, South Essex sometime before or during Philip Harwood’s lifetime (1881 – 1957), and also from Sussex according to Lindroth (1974). It is worth noting that later authors have not referred to the Deal or Swansea records: they may have been overlooked or they may have been omitted deliberately as incorrect or doubtful records.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no reason why this carabid should not still be turning up in Britain on rare occasions. In fact, we might expect it to be turning up more frequently. Is it being overlooked?

The Tilbury specimen of Harpalus calceatus.

Thanks to Andrew Duff for prompting this review of records.


Dawson, J.F. (1854). Geodephaga Britannica. A monograph of the carnivorous ground-beetles indigenous to the British Isles. London: John van Voorst.

Fowler, W.W. (1887). The Coleoptera of the British Islands. Volume I: Adephaga – Hydrophilidae. London: L. Reeve.

Lindroth, C.H. (1974). Coleoptera, Carabidae. Handbooks for the identification of British insects, vol. 4, part 2. London: Royal Entomological Society.

Stephens, J.F. (1839). A manual of British Coleoptera or beetles. London: Longman, Orme Brown, Green and Longmans.


  1. Hakan Ljungberg, Sweden says:

    This species (like Harpalus griseus) is very strongly attracted to light, both UV (establish contact with lepidopterists!) and regular outdoor lighting. In southern Sweden, it is recorded quite regularly in July-August, although the number of known breeding populations is very small. Good luck and thanks for a great website!

  2. david says:

    I see this harpalus cateatus alot just befor it rains in my house as well as a black 1 same shape and maybe a mm or 2 bigger all year round less in winter but more active in summer can you help me find out more so i dont desterb them they are common are this area.

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