Criorhina ranunculi (Panzer, 1804)
Biology & ecology:
The larva has been found in wet decaying roots of Aspen Populus, Beech Fagus sylvatica, Birch Betula sp. and Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus. Whilst large, old deciduous trees in woodland are probably the normal breeding habitat, females have been seen inspecting the bases of birch trees in heathland. Adults fly early in the spring and are usually seen visiting the blossom of early-flowering shrubs such as Goat Willow Salix caprea, Blackthorn Prunus spinosa, and occasionally Hawthorn Crataegus sp., or basking on sun-lit foliage. Males fly with a characteristic high-pitched whine.
Although this species is mainly known from counties south of Cumbria, recent recording has shown that it is probably much more widely distributed and that it occurs in some largely coniferised areas in northern England. There are scattered records north to Sutherland with a small hot spot in Strathspey. It seems likely that this species is under-recorded because it flies early in the year and is best sought using a long net handle (telescopic landing net handle).
Status & conservation:
The frequency of occurrence has shown a recent, marked increase coinciding with the greater use of photography for recording.