Quick facts

Common name: violet click beetle

Scientific name: Limoniscus violaceus

Family: Elateridae

Habitat: pasture woodland

Diet: decaying wood

Predators: birds

Origin: native 

What do violet click beetles look like?

The adult beetle is long and thin, measuring around 12mm in length. It is black with a metallic purple-blue sheen. Larvae are also long and thin but resemble meal worm-like grubs, and are whitish in colour.

What do violet click beetles eat?

The larvae feed on the decaying wood they are born in, getting nutrients from the mix of rotting wood, bird droppings and leaf litter in the tree. Adult violet click beetles are thought to feed on nectar.

Did you know?

When threatened it catapults itself away rather than flies. It does this using a peg and groove on its thorax which it snaps together with a ‘click’ that flings the beetle into the air.

How do violet click beetles breed?

Violet click beetles breed in the hollows of ancient decaying ash and beech trees. While little is known about their breeding due to their rarity, it is believed they breed continuously in the same tree until it has completely rotted away. They will then venture out to find a new breeding site.

Violet click beetle against a white background

Credit: Courtesy of the Trustees of The Natural History Museum, London

Where do violet click beetles live?

The violet click beetle is incredibly rare and has only been recorded at three sites in the UK – one in Gloucestershire, one in Worcestershire and one on the Surrey/Berkshire border. It lives exclusively in ancient decaying ash and beech where the heartwood is undisturbed and has decayed to a soot-like texture.

Signs and spotting tips

As these beetles are very rare, the chances of spotting one are slim. They are active from February to May, so if you are hoping to see the species, this would be the best time to try.

Threats and conservation

The violet click beetle has always been rare in the UK, but further loss of ancient woodland and veteran trees poses a great risk to the already elusive beetle. These insects rely on ancient trees to live and breed in, and so the loss of ancient woodland could mean we lose this species entirely in the UK.