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Maiden voyage of the Autokatcher!

I received the custom-made Autokatcher net from B&S Entomological Services during the week, in time to give the Autokatcher its maiden voyage around Parham Park during the first Pan-species Listers’ Field Meeting on Friday. I’ve just put the meagre haul of eight beetles that I caught on the first spin under the microscope and, incredibly, the first one I look at is Litargus balteatus (Mycetophagidae). A first for Sussex and a new beetle for me!

The Autokatcher

Colin Welch summarised the status and distribution of this beetle in a 2009 paper. 14 specimens were found in Sherwood Forest in 1907. It wasn’t seen again until 1982 when 3 were found in Leicestershire, followed by one in Norfolk in 2003, another one in Norfolk and one in Cambs in 2007, one in Huntingdonshire and one in Dorset in 2008. The first Irish record was of one in Co. Armagh in 2010. No doubt there have been a few other records as yet unpublished. It’s a non-native species from North America and despite a slow start, it seems to be spreading in Britain now.

The test run of the Autokatcher was a complete success and I’ll post full details soon for anyone else who fancies getting one. But meantime here’s some footage of the maiden voyage!

Welch, R.C. (2009). Litargus balteatus Le Conte (Mycetophagidae) outdoors in Cambridgeshire (Vice County 31, Hunts.). The Coleopterist, 18, 130.



  1. Neil Fletcher says:

    Awesome video!

  2. Ernie Ives says:

    Hi Mark
    I wonder if you were going too fast? If the mesh of the net (they tend to close when stretched out) cannot filter the air through it quickly enough, any insects will hit ‘a wall of air’ at the entrance and be swept over the top. A circuit done at 30 mph followed by one at 10 mph might be instructive.

  3. markgtelfer says:

    Thanks Ernie, I will do some speed trials as you suggest. I had a better catch later in the evening just before dusk which is reputedly the best time of day for catching beetles on the wing.

  4. Morten E.S. Pedersen says:

    A hot summer day, around sunset, running in the forest areas should give a few rarities. Have just ordered a autokatcher-net, can not wait to try it.

    What is the maximum speed of this thing?



  5. markgtelfer says:

    Peter Hodge has kindly confirmed that he knows of no previous Sussex record of Litargus balteatus.

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