I came across this attractive ground beetle in Galicia, Spain. It was quite large, over an inch long (at c. 27 mm), with an attractive bronze sheen (1). Its taxonomic name is Carabus (Ctenocarabus) melancholicus costatus Germar, 1824, and occurs in the northern half of the Iberian Peninsula (2).
Further south in Spain, there are two other subspecies: R. m.
dehesicola and R. m. submeridionalis (2). A fourth subspecies – R. m. melancholicus – occurs in northern Morocco, where it appears to have been stranded after the opening of the Gibraltar Strait, some 5.5 million years ago (2). Pictures of one of the other subspecies can be seen on this excellent Spanish website (3).
Carabid beetles (Family Carabidae) are an extremely attractive group of insects. We don’t do too badly in Great Britain, with about 350 species, but we don’t have as many of the large shiny ones (!) that occur in other parts of Europe, particularly in the south. There are 1,147 carabid species known from Spain (4). A good place to look at some of these fabulous specimens is on the fabulous website Carabidae of the World (4).
- García-París, M., and M. París. “Geographic variation in the African-Iberian ground beetle Rhabdotocharabus melancholicus (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and its taxonomical and biogeographical implications.” Graellsia 51 (1995): 27-35.
I am an entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.