Top Five Insects I’ve Seen – #2 – The Thick-Legged Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis)

Such brilliant colours, I love those little bug-eyes, and dem T H I C C thighs are just special. This is the thick-legged flower beetle, Oedemera nobilis. (Credit: Me)

I’ma give ya some behind the scenes!

Curating lists like this can be difficult. Because if I’d just picked my favourites you would have had four wasps and a beetle, each article would have been 100 words and as many images long and even fewer people would have cared.

If I’d picked your favourites you would just be looking at the same bumblebees and butterflies that sap all the insect attention and nothing new would get a light shone upon it. I haven’t exactly broke new ground myself but I’ve at least tried to be varied.

So instead I look for a combination, what are my favourites that are unusual, and what’s the hook, the story I want to tell?

A female Oedemera nobilis enjoying the flowers with a couple of wasps and a fly – think that’s a hint of pollen beetle behind her. Notice the female’s legs are more slender than the males. (Credit: Me)

No such luck with these guys, they’re just here because I love ‘em! And this is not a matter of beauty, style, elegance. Nah, this is all charm!

That’s not to say the thick-legged flower beetle is not beautiful. That iridescent green-sheen, hints of bronze in the right light, that can border on blues and violets, the elegant form, the tapering elytra – those hard wing casings – It’s a pretty little animal.

But this beetle, Oedemera nobilis, is just charming to me. It’s hard to explain why.

It’s important to be considerate. To ‘know thyself’ and your reasons for thinking and feeling as you do. It’s important to have a message, an idea, and to wish to share it with the world using examples of those things for which you have regard.

But sometimes It’s important to just like what ya like and not look into it too much. Sometimes that probing can lead to us thinking we don’t like something when we do, especially under social duress. I like wasps, most people don’t. But I will not invalidate myself based on that majority pressure!

Inside a hedge-bindweed. I have often found these beetles in these flowers and it’s always joyful. (Credit: Me)

The thick-legged flower beetle is – as the name suggests – a flower beetle, feeding on pollen and nectar – so it’s an important pollinator. It seems to have a particular fondness for open flowers. I see them regularly on hedge bindweed, bramble flowers, dandelions, umbellifers – they visit a lot!

They are highly abundant in England and Wales having had a population expansion from around the mid-90s. They are rarer further north, and unlikely to be found in Scotland or Ireland.

They get their name, if you haven’t noticed it from the images, from those bulbous little didn’t-skip-leg-day thighs of theirs! This is another example of sexual dimorphism (different appearance between sexes) though, as only the males have those squatter’s legs! The females’ legs are quite delicate and slender in comparison.

So what am I going to write about if there’s no story!? Well that’s the story!

How can you not love this little guy!? He’s my buddy! (Credit: Andy Murray CC-BY-SA-2.0)

In all the interests I have promoted, astronomy, fossil hunting, looking at invertebrates etc. One of the first things I encourage is just to go do it! Research the best areas, tips, methods, equipment etc. but don’t research “What to look for” because then you are at the whims of someone else’s opinion.

I encourage people to go out and find the things they like for their own reasons. And yes, as this list demonstrates, many of those will be similar to everyone else’s. Human minds are not so different from one another! But you may also have a particular connection with something others hate (like wasps! Which are lovely!) or you may find beauty in something others find dull, you may find majesty in the humble, attraction in the ugly, regard for the disregarded and love for the hated – and I want to encourage that.

Curiosity ought to have no regard for reputation.

I will admit the thick-legged flower beetle is a beautiful little thing. But it’s hardly top of the list of most well-known and regarded insects in this country. It’s not even top of my list! But I vibe with them. I love these little guys and smile when I see them. They make me happy. I love it when they’re tucked up inside a hedge bindweed like it’s their little house. I love seeing them fly, their glistening green elytra open and chonky legs dangling.

On the mallow flower. Just so damn charming! (Credit: Me)

Sometimes we just like what we like. So get out there and find what you like of our six-legged friends. Maybe you’ll see a lovely flower beetle with thick thighs!

If you wish to get more involved or learn my about insects and invertebrates here are some links to The Royal Entomological Society and Insect Week resources.

Royal Entomological Society Website
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

Insect Week Website
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

Or you can read some of my other articles about insects and invertebrates below.

My Top Five UK Insects I’ve Seen: Introduction
An introduction to my top five insects, and a short look at why we need to see our insects differently.
Top Five Insects #5 – The Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva)
Under-appreciated spring bee with a female who has incredible fox-red fur.
Top Five Insects #4 – The Rose Chafer (Cetonia aurata)
An otherworldly jewel of a beetle.
Top Five Insects #3 – The Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae)
Proof that moths can be as amazing as butterflies, with a lovely caterpillar!

Top Five Insects #1 – The Ruby-Tailed Wasps (Chrysis sp. or Family Chrysididae)
Stunning little jewels that can teach us much about the diversity of wasps and insects.

Top Ten Hated (But Misunderstood) Animals – #1 – Wasps
A look at wasps in all their diverse beauty and glory and why they are important to us. A long-read.

The Wasp Tragedy – How Can We Help?
A few tips on how you can encourage wasps and other insect and invertebrate biodiversity in your home or garden.

Insects: The Savage Eden Before Your Eyes
A more in-depth look at my journey as I developed a relationship with insects and their role in our ecosystems.

Grown-Ups Guides: Hedge-Hunting for Bugs!
A short guide on how a total novice can get started appreciating the tiny wildlife in the undergrowth (safely)! Aimed at adults.

Human Bias and Animal Myth in Conservation
Not insect-specific but hugely relevant. Adapted from a twitter thread looking at how humans form ideas and relationships with the natural world.

Published by Karl Anthony Mercer

Karl Anthony Mercer is a writer, poet, author, musician and part-time dandy. He can often be found squatting in fields looking at insects (he is an unapologetic wasp fanatic), wandering around museums over-dressed, or hiding in a dank corner singing sad songs on a small guitar. His writing on WordPress consists of MercersPoems - an outlet for his poetry often using natural imagery, gothicism and decadence to explore the struggles of living as an autistic person; and We Lack Discipline - Where he writes about factual, often academic topics he has learned and is interested in (e.g. biology, psychology, Roman history etc.) with an inimitable, often light-hearted and irreverant style. You can support Karl by; Subscribing to the We Lack Discipline Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/WeLackDiscipline Or buying him a coffee (he loves coffee!) - https://ko-fi.com/welackdiscipline

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