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Special Areas of Conservation

1079 Violet click beetle Limoniscus violaceus

Invertebrate species: arthropods

Description and ecological characteristics

The violet click beetle Limoniscus violaceus is primarily associated with ancient trees, as it develops in undisturbed wood-mould at the base of central cavities in these trees. At Windsor Forest it seems to develop exclusively in beech Fagus sylvatica, but at Bredon Hill and Dixton Wood ash Fraxinus excelsior appears to be the main species used. It is probable that a large population of ancient trees is necessary for a site to support this species.

Distribution of SACs/SCIs/cSACs with species 1079 Limoniscus violaceus. Click image for enlarged map.

European status and distribution

Limoniscus violaceus is very rare throughout its European range.

UK status and distribution

Limoniscus violaceus has always been extremely rare in the UK, where it was first noted in 1937 at Windsor Forest. There are only three sites in the UK known to support this species; all are in England.

View UK distribution of this species.

Site selection rationale

The three sites known to support this species in the UK have all been selected

Site accounts

  • Bredon Hill Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire
    Violet click beetle Limoniscus violaceus was recorded at Bredon Hill in 1989, although there is a 1939 record from ‘Tewkesbury’, which may refer to Bredon Hill. It has been found in each of several years since. It is a very important site for fauna associated with decaying timber on ancient trees, including many Red Data Book and Nationally Scarce invertebrate species.
  • Dixton Wood Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area
    Violet click beetle Limoniscus violaceus was discovered at Dixton Wood in 1998 and it has been found at the site on a single occasion subsequently. It is a small site with large number of ancient ash Fraxinus excelsior pollards, and supports a rich fauna of scarce invertebrate species associated with decaying timber on ancient trees.
  • Windsor Forest and Great Park Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, Surrey, East and West Sussex
    Violet click beetle Limoniscus violaceus was first recorded at Windsor Forest in 1937. The site is thought to support the largest of the known populations of this species in the UK. There is a large population of ancient trees on the site, which, combined with the historical continuity of woodland cover, has resulted in Windsor Forest being listed as the most important site in the UK for fauna associated with decaying timber on ancient trees (Fowles, Alexander & Key 1999). The site was also identified as of potential international importance for its saproxylic invertebrate fauna by the Council of Europe (Speight 1989).

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.