Limoniscus violaceus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Limoniscus violaceus
Species Authority: (P. W. J. Müller, 1821)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-06-05
Assessor(s): Méndez, M., Dodelin, J., Petrakis, P., Schlaghamersky, J. & Nardi, G.
Reviewer(s): Nieto, A. & Alexander, K.

European regional assessment: assessed as Endangered. This species is widely distributed but severely fragmented and rare throughout its range with an estimated area of occupancy of less than 500 km2. It has become extinct in parts of its range and is declining in many countries. Its habitat is old trees with cavities which are threatened by unfavourable forest management and this habitat is severely declining.

EU 27 regional assessment: assessed as Endangered (B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv)). This species is widely distributed but severely fragmented and rare throughout its range with an estimated area of occupancy of less than 500 km2. It has become extinct in parts of its range and is declining in many countries. Its habitat is old trees with cavities which are threatened by unfavourable forest management and this habitat is severely declining


Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This central European species is known to have a discontinuous distribution across the entirety of Europe except for the outer-most southern and northern areas (Laibner 2000). It is extinct in Denmark and has not been found there in circa 100 years (National Environmental Research Institute 2007).
Austria; Czech Republic; Estonia; France (France (mainland)); Germany; Hungary; Romania; Slovakia; Spain (Spain (mainland)); United Kingdom (Great Britain)
Regionally extinct:
Denmark; Poland
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is very rare throughout its European range.

In Britain there are isolated populations within a very fragmented range; it is only known from two areas in England, with two distinct sites at one of these; there is no information available on population size or trends (K.N.A. Alexander pers. comm. 2009). In Hungary there are very few records known from the hilly areas; the species is very rare and the populations are small (O. Merkl pers. comm. 2009). In the Czech Republic there are several sites scattered across the country. In Slovakia it is found in the south and east, and there are several sites. In Germany there are up to ten localities, half of those have been confirmed several times. In France it is very localized in lowland large and ancient beech forests; 15 known localities. In Spain it is known from four localities in the north, one very old. In Poland it is known from two localities: one from 1870 and one from 1920. It is certainly Extinct in Denmark - not found in ca 100 years (National Environmental Research Institute 2007).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

This is an obligate saproxylic species. The larvae develop in wood mould, typically in the base of hollow living trees, usually in the trunks, with large cavities containing wood mould, primarily derived from natural fungal decay of the dead heartwood. In most sites the larvae are found in wood mould in close contact with the soil but there is at least one observation of larvae in wood mould a few metres up in the tree. The situation of the occupied hollow trees may vary across its European range, with open-grown trees important in the cooler and damper west, but shade more important under more continental conditions. Sites may be in forest or in cultural landscapes, e.g., old wood pastures, old coppiced woodlands, etc. (K.N.A. Alexander pers. comm. 2009).

In England it occurs in three very different sites: one active old wood pasture dominated by ash Fraxinus, one abandoned old ash coppice, and a former old wood pasture dominated by beech Fagus, all part of the cultural landscape rather than old forest (K.N.A. Alexander pers. comm. 2009). In Hungary most records are from hollow turkey oaks Quercus cerris (not necessarily old ones) with near-ground cavities filled with wood mould, but also from lime Tilia, ash Fraxinus and maple Acer (O. Merkl pers. comm. 2009). In France it is known only from old and ancient beech forests with trees damaged at their base; the larvae live in cavities in contact with soil in living Fagus or rarely in Quercus (Leseigneur 1972).

Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Saproxylic Coleoptera tend to be popular with beetle collectors although trade is rarely an issue, the only exceptions being a few larger species of more dramatic form or colour.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

In England, natural loss of old trees from the known sites and lack of new generation trees are major threats to this species; also singling of old coppice stools in productive woodland. Canopy closure is a potential threat in the UK, as this cools the wood mould and slows larval development (K.N.A. Alexander pers. comm. 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive. This species is listed as Regionally Extinct in Denmark (2005), as Critically Endangered in the Czech Republic and is included in the British Red Data Book as Endangered (Shirt 1987). Conservation of old-growth trees, protection of known sites, and preservation of traditional coppicing are recommended for the conservation of this species, as well as the provision of substitute habitat by creating trees with cavities. This species would benefit if traditional coppices continue to be managed, but also if forests are being left intact without removing old live trees with cavities.

In the UK, all three known sites are protected under UK legislation and SAC. It has been illegal to collect this species since 1988. A Species Action Plan was developed (1996) and a Species Recovery Programme was initiated by English Nature. Tree mapping and documentation projects are available at all sites. New tree plantings have been carried out at the active wood pasture site; future host trees have been selected for retention from beech natural regeneration at the former wood pasture site. No analysis of tree population dynamics has been carried out however, so there is currently no real understanding of long-term host tree availability. Fallen hollow beech trees have had their trunks re-erected and filled with sawdust and other materials, and Limoniscus larvae and elytra have been found within them after six years of composting (Green 1995, Whitehead 1998) (K.N.A. Alexander pers. comm. 2009).

In Hungary although all known extant populations are in protected areas (or at least in Natura 2000 sites), more effective conservation of the hollow oaks is necessary. The species is legally protected in Hungary.

Bibliography [top]

Alexander, K.N.A. 2002. The invertebrates of living and decaying timber in Britain and Ireland - a provisional annotated checklist. English Nature, Peterborough.

Green T. 1995. Creating decaying trees. British Wildlife 6(5): 310.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.1). Available at: (Accessed: 10 March 2010).

Laibner, S. 2000. Elateridae of the Czech and Slovak Republics. Kabourek, Zlin.

Leseigneur, L. 1972. Coléoptères Elateridae de la faune de France continentale et de Corse. Société linnéenne de Lyon, Lyon.

Mendel, H. and Clarke, R.E. 1996. Provisional atlas of the click beetles (Coleoptera: Elateroidea) of Britain and Ireland. Ipswich Borough Council Museums, Ipswich.

Mendel H & Owen JA. 1990. Limoniscus violaceus (Muller) (Col: Elateridae), the violet click beetle in Britain. The Entomologist 109(1): 43-46.

National Envronmental Research Institute. 2007. The Danish Red Data Book. Roskilde Available at:

Shirt, D.B. 1987. British Red Data Books - Insects. Nature Conservancy Council, Peterborough.

Whitehead PF. 1998. Compost bins and other artificially created biotopes as biological conservation agents for xylophilous Coleoptera. Entomologist's Gazette 49: 257-260.

Citation: Méndez, M., Dodelin, J., Petrakis, P., Schlaghamersky, J. & Nardi, G. 2010. Limoniscus violaceus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. <>. Downloaded on 23 July 2014.
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