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4:26PM

Lixinae weevils

Recently found Rhinocyllus conicus on marsh thistle Cirsium palustre at a site in Bexhill. This weevil and the closely related Larinus planus used to be quite rare and localised in Sussex but seem to be spreading rapidly in the last few years. Larinus planus is now common on creeping thislte Cirsium arvense along the coast from Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve to Dungeness. It is especially common at Pett Level.

Rhinocyllus conicus (below) has a similar tessellated pattern of pale scales as Larinus planus but the rostrum (the elongated part of a weevils head) is much shorter and broader with a distinct keel along the top.

Two other Lixinae weevils have been recorded in the RX area including Lixus scabricollis which is now common on sea beet Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima on cliffs and shingle from Bexhill to Dungeness. The most spectacular of all is Lixus angustatus, a very large weevil also associated with thistles, which unfortunately was last recorded in Britain in 1923 on the cliffs of Hastings to Fairlight. Another thistle weevil which could occur in the area is Cleonus pigra. It is a large weevil with a double V pattern on its back.

So never pass a patch of thistles in the RX coastal area without checking for Lixinae weevils you could make a significant discovery. All these species are nationally rare or scarce.

Andy Phillips

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