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5th British site for Dactylosternum abdominale: the back garden

Tony Allen discovered this hydrophilid beetle new to Britain from a silage clamp at Wimborne St. Giles, Dorset in 2003. It didn’t persist in Dorset but next turned up in Colin Welch’s plastic compost bins in his garden at Hemington, Northamptonshire on 2nd October 2005 where it persisted for several years but hasn’t been seen since Colin used his compost in 2010.

Tony had kindly given me one of his specimens so I knew what it looked like and had hoped I might find it in our compost bins one day. So when I lifted the lid on Wednesday 12th October and saw the back end of a hydrophilid heading down into the goo, I had no hesitation in thrusting my hand in to catch it! And Dactylosternum abdominale it was! I soon learnt of two other recent records. Martin Collier and Andrew Duff found it in a rotten hollow poplar log in a plantation near Mundford, West Norfolk, on 29th September, and James McGill found half a dozen on a well-rotted bracket fungus in Swell Wood, South Somerset on 2nd October. It sounds like it is getting established this year, especially as it is being found in more natural microhabitats. I have since found more in my compost bin.

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