Thursday, 31 March 2011

Beetle's about

Whilst out walking on the Coast path, enjoying the spring sunshine, keep your eyes open for the rare oil beetles.  Members of the public are being asked to help with the first ever nationwide survey to map the location of the threatened and beautiful oil beetles, and the Lizard is one of the best places to find them

The survey is being organised by Buglife, The Invertebrate Trust and the National Trust in partnership with Natural England and and Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Two species of oil beetle are already extinct, and populations of the other four species have halved in the past 100 years.  One of these species, the Short-necked oil beetle (Meloe brevicollis) was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered on National Trust land in South Devon in 2007.  Let's see if we can find it here on the Lizard too.  This survey will help establish the whereabouts of the remaining four species and boost efforts to secure their future.

Oil beetles have suffered through a loss of their favoured habitat of flower rich coastal habitats, and a serious reduction in native solitary bees, with which they have an extraordinary relationship with.  After hatching, the tiny larvae crawl to the top of a flower, from where they hitch a ride on the back of a visiting bee collecting pollen.  Once back in the bees nest, the larva disembarks and proceeds to live within the bee's nest, feeding off pollen and the bee's eggs.  The larva develops in the bee burrow until it emerges as an oil beetle ready to mate and start the whole cycle again.
Oil beetles are normally found between late March and June.

We have put up 'Don't step on the beetles' signs at various places around the coast path and id guides will be available at many of our car parks around the Lizard.  Alternatively, visit the Buglife website for a free identification guide, more information about these brilliant beetles and to report sightings and photographs.

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