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Macrosteles is an extremely difficult and diverse genus, of which many species are impossible to identify without dissection. Most are found in grasslands, and are yellow with darker markings on the vertex and sometimes diffuse darker markings on the wings.
M. variatus is one of few species that are identifiable by photographs. On the vertex, the middle dark marking on each side is missing (compare M. laevis), and the forewings have dark grey-brown patches as shown. The only likely confusion is with the smaller M. quadripunctatus, in which the dark markings are spots rather than patches.
Widely but sparsely distributed, typically in woodland. Prefers nettles (Urtica dioica) but may also feed on other plants.
Adult: May to October
Length 4-4.5 mm
Dorset (June 2009) ©Mark
|Adult: Lincoln (June 2009) ©Michael E. Talbot||Nymph, M. cf. variatus: Lincoln (June 2009) ©Michael E. Talbot|