Paul writes: I found this beetle a few days ago along the River Derwent at Weldrake Ings in Yorkshire. It was sitting on an old log, possibly looking for a mate.
It’s a Red-breasted Carrion Beetle (Oiceoptoma thoracicum), which is fairly easy to identify once you get close to it. A very distinctive beetle, with a striking orange and black colour scheme and an unusual flat bodied shape. Generally it’s a woodland species but this one was out in the open. It’s a member of the Silphidae family, which are carrion or burying beetles. This species has a different strategy to most other family members. The adults and their larvae both spend most of their lives in dung, carrion or rotting vegetable matter. However rather than eat this material they feed on the other insects and larvae that live there.
They occur throughout mainland Britain but appear to be quite under recorded. This is only the second time I’ve seen one, so perhaps they spend most of their life cycle hidden from view and only come out into the open to look for a mate.