Belongs within: Anthaxiini.
Anthaxia is an extremely diverse genus of jewel beetles with over 700 species known from Eurasia, Africa and the Americas (Bouchard 2014).
Anthaxia: more modest jewels
Published 16 February 2019
The jewel beetles of the Buprestidae are best known for their spectacularly patterned exemplars, a couple of which I’ve presented on this site before. But as with most animal groups renowned in this way, they also include their fair share of less immediately eye-catching members. The species of the genus Anthaxia are among these more modest jewels.
Which is not to say they are unattractive. Anthaxia species still usually have the metallic gloss so widespread among the Buprestidae but they tend to be more uniform in colour, and those colours are often shades of bronze or blue-green rather than yellows or purples. They are also smaller than the species previously shown: a length of 6.5 millimetres would be relatively large for an Anthaxia. Some of the smallest species don’t quite make it to three millimetres (Bílý & Kubáň 2010). Nevertheless, Anthaxia are incredibly diverse. Something in the range of 700 species are known from around the world (though they appear to be absent from Australia, with the single species described from Victoria now thought to have been based on a mis-labelled African specimen) and a quick Google Scholar search indicates new species continue to be described regularly. It should come as no surprise that many of these species would be difficult to distinguish without close examination.
Like other buprestids, Anthaxia species are wood-borers as larvae and flower-feeders as adults. The larvae seem to run the gamut of preferred tree hosts: Anthaxia have been found emerging from hosts ranging from pines to pears, from oleander to oaks. Some species appear to be quite catholic in their tastes: the recorded host list for the most polyphagous known species, A. millefolii, includes maples, chestnuts, carobs, oleanders, pistachios, plums, pears, oaks and rowans (Mifsud & Bílý 2002). Others are more discerning. Species of the subgenus Melanthaxia are only known to feed on conifers (Bílý & Kubáň 2010) and records for A. lucens indicate a dedication to stonefruit trees (Mifsud & Bílý 2002). Nevertheless, the larval hosts of many species remain unknown and there may be surprises. The North American species A. hatchi might be expected to be a conifer feeder like other Melanthaxia species but to date it has been collected in riparian habitats where conifers do not grow (Nelson et al. 1981). Could this member of an otherwise conifer-loving group have developed a taste for the willows and alders amongst which it lives? The question is yet to be answered.
Systematics of Anthaxia
Characters (from Bellamy & Nelson 2002): Body short, relatively robust, often with vestiture on head, elytra; antennae serrate in both sexes, sensory foveae placed on distal surface of antennomeres; frons not contracted by insertion of antennae; mentum entirely corneous; pronotum truncate at base, lacking posteromedial depression; prosternum obtusely angulate behind coxae; scutellum small, visible; metacoxal plates distinctly dilated medially; pygidial margin entire; protibia with two spurs.
Anthaxia Eschscholtz 1829B85
|--A. (Anthaxiola Rikhter 1945)B85
|--A. (Callanthaxia Rikhter 1945)B85
|--A. (Chrysanthaxia Rikhter 1945)B85
|--A. (Cratomerella Rikhter 1949)B85
|--A. (Cratomerus Solier 1833)B85
|--A. (Cryptanthaxia Rikhter 1945)B85
|--A. (Cryptocratomerus Rikhter 1945)B85
|--A. (Cyclanthaxia Rikhter 1945)B85
|--A. (Cylindrophora Solier 1851 non Bonord. 1851 (ICBN)) [incl. Ctenoderus Germain ms]B85
|--A. (Euanthaxia Rikhter 1945)B85
|--A. (Haplanthaxia Reitter 1911)B85
|--A. (Homalanthaxia Rikhter 1945)B85
|--A. (Melanthaxia Rikhter 1945)B85
|--A. (Mesanthaxia Rikhter 1945)B85
|--A. (Paracuris Obenberger 1923)B85
`--A. (Trichocratomerus Rikhter 1945)B85
Anthaxia incertae sedis:
A. chlorocephala Lucas 1846E12
A. congregata [=Buprestis congregata]G89
A. cupripes Macleay 1872M86
A. fulgidipennis Lucas 1846E12
A. hungarica (Scopoli 1772)B14
|--A. h. hungaricaB14
`--A. h. sittaB14
A. luctuosa Lucas 1846E12
A. nigra Macleay 1872M86
A. obscura Macleay 1872M86
A. purpureicollis Macleay 1872M86
A. rugicollis Lucas 1846E12
*Type species of generic name indicated
[B85] Bellamy, C. L. 1985. A catalogue of the higher taxa of the family Buprestidae (Coleoptera). Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum Bloemfontein 4 (15): 405–472.
Bellamy, C. L., & G. H. Nelson. 2002. Buprestidae Leach 1815. In: Arnett, R. H., Jr, M. C. Thomas, P. E. Skelley & J. H. Frank (eds) American Beetles vol. 2. Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea pp. 98–112. CRC Press.
Bílý, S., & V. Kubáň. 2010. A study on the Nearctic species of the genus Anthaxia (Coleoptera: Buprestidae: Buprestinae: Anthaxiini). Subgenus Melanthaxia. Part I. Acta Entomologica Musei Nationalis Pragae 50 (2): 535–546.
[B14] Bouchard, P. (ed.) 2014. The Book of Beetles: A lifesize guide to six hundred of nature’s gems. Ivy Press: Lewes (United Kingdom).
[C01] Csiki, E. 1901. Bogarak [Coleopteren]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] vol. 2. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] pp. 75–120. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.
[E12] Evenhuis, N. L. 2012. Publication and dating of the Exploration Scientifique de l’Algérie: Histoire Naturelle des Animaux Articulés (1846–1849) by Pierre Hippolyte Lucas. Zootaxa 3448: 1–61.
[G89] Gestro, R. 1889. Viaggio ab Assab nel Mar Rosso dei signori G. Doria ed O. Beccari con il R. Avviso “Esploratore” dal 16 Novembre 1879 al 26 Febbraio 1880.—IV. Coleotteri. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova, Serie 2a, 7: 5–72.
[M86] Masters, G. 1886. Catalogue of the described Coleoptera of Australia. Part III. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, series 2, 1 (1): 21–126.
Mifsud, D., & S. Bílý. 2002. Jewel beetles (Coleoptera, Buprestidae) from the Maltese Islands (central Mediterranean). Central Mediterranean Naturalist 3 (4): 181–188.