Violet ground beetle

Violet ground beetle (Carabus problematicus) ©Margaret Holland

Violet ground beetle

Scientific name: Carabus violaceus or Carabus problematicus
Violet ground beetles are active predators, coming out at night to hunt slugs and other invertebrates in gardens, woodlands and meadows.

Species information

Statistics

Length: up to 3cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

March to October

About

There are two very similar species of violet ground beetle. Carabus violaceus is the more common of the two beetles, found in gardens and meadows, and on farmland. Carabus problematicus is slightly less common, favouring woodland and heathland, though it can sometimes be found in gardens.

Ground beetles are active, nocturnal predators, chasing and catching smaller invertebrates; they are particularly helpful to gardeners as they prey on many 'pest' species, such as slugs. They can often be found resting during the day under logs and stones and in leaf litter. Adult females lay their eggs in soil and, when the larvae hatch, they become active predators themselves.

How to identify

The violet ground beetle is black with a metallic-purple sheen, especially around the flattened edges of its fused wing cases (elytra). There are two very similar species of violet ground beetle which are very difficult to tell apart. Carabus problematicus typically has a more textured look to the elytra, with distinct ridges and dimples.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

There are hundreds of species of ground beetle in the UK, which can be found in almost all habitats. One of the rarest beetles in the UK is the Crucifix Ground Beetle (Panagaeus cruxmajor, a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework), which was rediscovered in Cambridgeshire in 2008 after a 50-year absence in the area.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try planting native plants and trees to entice birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.