Beetles on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire

For the last year I’ve been recording all the taxa found on Salisbury Plain. I’ve been very successful with my moth trap (140+ species now), and I spend a lot of the summer holidays visually searching for new flora and fauna out on my long rambles. I’ve clocked up nearly 500 different species this year, which isn’t bad for a summers work.

I recently stumbled upon Wiltshire Beetles, by Michael Darby, and from the online synopsis I was amazed to find out there have been 1839 species recorded here in Wiltshire! When I looked back over my iNaturalist observations, I realised my measly 32 different recorded species of coleoptera is very lame indeed.

Are there any methods or traps people could suggest to help increase my species count? I only bought my moth trap this April, and I was absolutely amazed what’s actually out and about of an evening. Would love to hear what suggestions more seasoned naturalists could suggest for catching/recording beetles.

Many thanks!

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Basic pitfall traps (solo cups set in the ground with dishsoap in water) will catch a good number of ground species. You can attract some species with a bit of alcohol (ie, pour out a little for them while enjoying the rest in your camp chair) - this is good for bark beetles.

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That’s only if you intend to kill them.

There are many types of trap that will get you beetles. Malaise traps intercept flying insects in huge numbers. Cheaper interception traps of a sheet of netting hung vertically with trays of water underneath can do well in the right place. You can hang baited vane traps made from plastic bottles. Pitfalls have been adapted to different habitats such as floating on ponds or buried in scree. You can bury bottles with holes in the side, again with baits if preferred. Then there are all the active methods - beating bushes over a tray, sweep netting, grubbing about in the litter layer. The Coleopterists Handbook will give you plenty of tips, or try the web pages of the various recording schemes on the BRC websiite. I suspect identifying them accurately will be a bigger problem than catching them.


Thank you so much for all the suggestions. It’s very helpful. I shall get myself a copy of the Coleopterist’s Handbook.

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