rainbow leaf beetle, Chrysolina cerealis (2)

photo: Michel Ehrhardt

rainbow leaf beetle, Chrysolina cerealis (4)

photo: D_Mar

rainbow leaf beetle, Chrysolina cerealis (5)

photo: Chris

Habitat: Eurasia; In the UK, this endangered beetle is currently known only from Caernarvonshire in Wales; since 1980 it has been recorded from Snowdon and Cwm Idwal. Elsewhere the species is found in northern, central and southern Europe
Status: Classified as Endangered in the UK and protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981

You don’t usually hear about insects being endangered since they’re typically found in huge numbers. However, the Rainbow Leaf Beetle (Chrysolina cerealis) is an extremely rare species of bug that is only found in a few small populations (though they are considered very difficult to locate, so maybe there are more out there we don’t know of!) in Eurasia. It’s interesting that such a vividly colored beetle is found in Europe; I would imagine this being found in the jungles of Borneo or some other extremely tropical location instead!

At only 5.5 – 10 mm in length, the Rainbow Leaf Beetle is arguably the most beautiful beetle in all of Britain. It has long bands of red, green, and purple running down its wing cases, or “elytra.”

The species is being monitored and it seems that there hasn’t really been a decline in population numbers per se; it might just be that this species was always rare! Makes sense – rainbows are, after all, are a special treat. It makes sense that a rainbow beetle would be just as coveted as the natural weather phenomenon it is named after!