Cardinal click beetle (Ampedus cardinalis)

Cardinal click beetle adult
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Cardinal click beetle fact file

Cardinal click beetle description

GenusAmpedus (1)

The cardinal click beetle (Ampedus cardinalis) has russet-red wing cases (elytra), a shiny black thorax and a covering of fine orange hairs. The larvae are cylindrical and elongate, yellowish-orange in colour and are quite active.

Also known as
heartwood click beetle, red cardinal beetle.
Elater coccinatus.
Head-body length: 12 – 16 mm (2)

Cardinal click beetle biology

Like all click beetles, this cardinal click beetle has a novel means of righting itself, should it be flipped over onto its back. The back is arched, and the beetle flips up into the air with an audible 'click', often landing back on its feet.

The larvae of this click beetle develop in the red-rotten heartwood of old, but still living, oak boughs and trunks (1) (6). Adults are found in pupal cells from September through to April, but are found free in the hollowed-out heartwood from May to July (1). Adult beetles actively predate upon the larvae of developing beetles and flies, and are thought to fly only rarely (3) (6).


Cardinal click beetle range

The cardinal click beetle exists in most countries in Europe, including Britain (1) (2) (3) (4) (5). It has been found in Berkshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, West Sussex, London, and Essex.

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.

Cardinal click beetle habitat

This cardinal click beetle is found in ancient broad-leaved woodland and pasture-woodland, and lives in decaying oak trees (Quercus spp.), breeding in heartwood which is suffering from red-rot, both in small boughs and in trunks (1) (6) (7).


Cardinal click beetle status

The cardinal click beetle is classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Cardinal click beetle threats

The greatest threat to this cardinal click beetle is the felling of over-mature oaks and the removal of dead and fallen timber (1). This is often done as a result of increased recreational use, leading to public safety issues and tidiness concerns (4). Broad-leaved woodland and parkland is lost through clear-felling and conversion to conifer plantations (7).


Cardinal click beetle conservation

Many populations of this cardinal click beetle are found on National Nature Reserves (NNRs) or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), but poor management in the past has resulted in the habitat of these beetles being removed, or becoming inconsistent over time (1). This click beetle is receiving attention, along with other species that require rotting wood, in the Biodiversity Action Plan for wood-pasture and parkland habitats (4). In order to ensure the continuation of this species, a diverse age-structure of oak trees in any one area must be maintained to ensure a constant presence of living oaks with rotting heartwood, in addition to leaving older trees and fallen timber as they are (6).

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.

Find out more

For more information on the cardinal click beetle and conservation:



Information authenticated by Roger Key of English Nature



In beetles and earwigs, the hard fore wings. They are held aloft when the insect flies, and are often coloured or patterned.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Part of the body located near the head in animals. In insects, the three segments between the head and the abdomen, each of which has a pair of legs.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2011)
  2. Elateridae – Click Beetles of the Palearctic Region (September, 2004)
  3. People’s Trust for Endangered Species (September, 2004)
  4. Waltham Forest Direct – Environment (September, 2004)
  5. The Updated List of Latvian Beetles from the Entomological Society of Latvia (September, 2004)
  6. The Ancient Tree Forum and The Woodland Trust (September, 2004)
  7. Hyman, P.S. (1994) A review of the scarce and threatened Coleoptera of Great Britain. JNCC, Peterborough.

Image credit

Cardinal click beetle adult  
Cardinal click beetle adult

© Roger Key

Dr Roger Key
Tel: +44 (0) 1845 567 292


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