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Can anyone identify this beetle please? It was about 1 inch long, digging in the car park right by the sea in South Devon.
It is an oil beetle, a species in the genus Meloe.
As it happens, Buglife (The Invertebrate Conservation Trust) are launching a new national public survey to look for oil beetles - see http://northcornwallnt.blogspot.com/2011/03/plea-for-help-from-buglife-this-march.html and http://www.buglife.org.uk/getinvolved/surveys/Oil+Beetle+Hunt/Oil+Beetle+Hunt+-+How+to+take+part.
And see their oil beetle ID guide - http://www.buglife.org.uk/Resources/Buglife/Oil%20Beetle%20Hunt/Buglife%20Oil%20Beetle%20guide.pdf
I'll let you follow the guide rather than spoiling it by giving you the ID myself.
Well spotted and good luck,