There are about 15,000 species world wide, 200 species of Buprestidae in Europe, but only 17 in the British Isles - mostly restricted to the south, and none of these are common, and some may even have gone extinct. There are none in Ireland. Of the few British species the adults tend to be short lived. The adults favour sunny areas where they can bask in flowers, and have a strong preference for yellow flowers. The typical body shape is seen above. The larvae (see the drawing below) are mainly wood borers, or plant stem borers, although some are leaf miners. One American species, Buprestis arulenta, has a larval life of over 30 years.
They get their common name of jewel beetles because of the beautiful iridescent metallic colouration of the adults. The elytra (wing cases) of some species have been used in jewellery and decoration in Asia. The beautiful colours are due to the microscopic textural patterns of the exoskeleton that reflect light of different frequencies as the angle changes. This is the same effect seen in CDs and DVDs. The British species adult size ranges from 1 - 35 mm, outside Britain the adult length can be as long as 80 mm. The eyes are large and the antennae short.