Pashford pot beetle (Cryptocephalus exiguus)

Pashford pot beetle
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Pashford pot beetle fact file

Pashford pot beetle description


This is the smallest of the British Cryptocephalus species. It is a shiny black in colour, with the legs and base of the antennae yellow. The male's head is also yellow but with a black line down the centre. The female's head is all black.

Body length: 2 - 2.5 mm

Pashford pot beetle biology

Adult beetles have been found during the months of June and July. Their larvae live at the edge of damp hollows that dry out in summer. The larvae live in little pots that look like mouse droppings. Its head is a perfect fit to the opening, and when it feels threatened it scurries into its pot and closes itself in.


Pashford pot beetle range

This species was once much more widespread in England, having been recorded in the Norfolk Broads and north Lincolnshire. However, these might have been widely separated and extremely localised populations. The beetle was not found at any site after 1957 until 1980, when a single male was found at Pashford Poor's Fen near Lakenheath in Suffolk. Several more beetles have been found at the same site.

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

Pashford pot beetle habitat

The Pashford pot beetle appears to be associated with common sorrel growing at the edges of fens.


Pashford pot beetle status

Classified as Endangered in the UK.


Pashford pot beetle threats

Pashford Poor's Fen is threatened by drainage of nearby land and water abstraction, which is lowering the water table. It is also uncertain whether this species benefits or not from grazing.


Pashford pot beetle conservation

The Pashford pot beetle is listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP), and included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme. Pashford Poor's Fen is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. In order to limit the loss of water to the fen, the SSSI boundary was extended in 1996 to improve control over the adjacent drainage ditches, and additional bunds have been installed to try and hold water levels higher during the summer months. Issues connected with the control of water resources on the site are to be addressed through the production of a Water Level Management Plan.

The management plan for the site is currently being rewritten with greater emphasis on the vegetation management of the wet fen areas where C. exiguus has been found. This will primarily concentrate on reducing the level of grazing in autumn and early winter. Future information will provide a better indication of the habitat management requirements of this species. Fencing has also been installed to control the grazing more effectively.

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.

Find out more

For further information on conservation in Suffolk, see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



Pair of sensory structures on the head of invertebrates.
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.



Image credit

Pashford pot beetle  
Pashford pot beetle

© Roger Key

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


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