Some friends of mine saw what they thought was a very unusual looking insect sitting on a leaf of a bonsai tree (either ash or beech) in their yard. It was mostly black in colour, about 2 cm long and cigar shaped. The wife said it had two blobs of red on its back towards the front of its body and was definitely an insect because it had six legs, although she couldn't see any antennae. The husband remembers some yellow stripes or marks down the side but can't remember seeing any red blobs. He also said it seemed rather hairy.
I think it must have been a rove beetle. Looking at Internet pictures, Staphylinus erythropterus seems most likely, but is that species hairy?
Any further sugestions?
Could be Platydracus stercorarius, which has yellow yairs on the abdomen. However rove beetles are generally ground dwellers, I'd be surprised to find it in a tree (even a small one!). Are you sure thats what it was?
Thank you very much both of you. I will send pictures to my friends and see if either kind - rove beetle or velvet ant - are anything like the insect they saw.
The velvet ant is intruiging, and fits the description of being hairy (even though my friend insisted that it was nothing like an ant because there was no apparent division - "wasp waist" - between the different parts of its body). One site I looked at said that Mutilla europaea is thought to be extinct in Wales, which is where my friends live (Cardiff). What a pity they never managed to take a picture of it!
Just been in touch with my friend and she says the velvet ant is nothing like, so it was probably a rove beetle, though species is uncertain (they said it had black legs, so not quite like
Staphylinus erythropterus, but similar.)
Wonder what it was doing in a bonsai tree?!!