Amazing miniature ‘beetle cottages’ have had their first success! This story and more from Buglife
The Bordered brown lacewing (Megalomus hirtus) has been rediscovered on Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh after having not been seen for over 30 years, and feared to be extinct in the UK.
The last record was from Edinburgh in 1982. The new specimen was found by Mike Smith, an intern with Buglife as part of a project supported by the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).
Mike Smith, Buglife intern said “Finding the lacewing has been a really exciting start to my project and now we know that it’s not extinct, we can start learning more about it. We think it might live on Wood sage but we’re not sure and so we need to investigate further to make sure that this rare Scottish insect has everything it needs to survive.”
Colin Plant, the national recorder for lacewings, who confirmed the identification, said “The rediscovery of the Bordered brown lacewing in Edinburgh is really good news for biodiversity. The discovery gives hope that other rare invertebrates might still be hanging on in areas where their micro-habitats still remain. The ongoing campaign by Buglife to preserve habitats remains key to the long term survival of a huge range of invertebrates.”
Further work will now be done to work out how healthy the population at Arthurs Seat is, as well as searching other old sites where the lacewing had been found previously.
Nida Al-Fulaij, Grants Manager at PTES, which has been supporting the internship, said “It’s really important to support and nurture the next generation of conservation scientists and biologists here in the UK. Mike Smith, who discovered the specimen as part of his intern project, has shown what can be achieved by an enthusiastic and dedicated young researcher when given the backing and guidance they need.”
Conserving life on earth is essential if we want a happy and wealthy future for the planet, but somehow it does not seem to rise to the top of the agenda of politicians and at the moment it seems to be lower on the agenda than ever. Yet wildlife was in the past seen to be a key part of sustainable development – what has gone wrong?
Wildlife provides direct health, recreation and ecosystem service benefits to people – we depend a healthy environment; because we have a moral obligation to allow the survival of the wonderful species with which we share the Earth; and because we must pass on to our children a planet that has not been unnecessarily defiled. We are indeed an integral part of life on earth and our long term wellbeing aligns closely with the wellbeing of wildlife.
On human terms the destruction of biodiversity is a slow process (although in geological terms it is happening with frightening rapidity) hence biodiversity conservation is seen as a long term issue while economic issues are always very immediate and pressing. This problem is well established and the concept of ‘Sustainable Development’ is based on the incorporation of long term objectives into short term actions.
The seminal text that got Sustainable Development onto the agenda of the world’s governments back in 1987 was “Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development”. This document has a whole chapter on biodiversity conservation (species and ecosystems), the intro states that:-
“Conservation of living natural resources – plants, animals, and micro-organisms, and the non-living elements of the environment on which they depend – is crucial for development.” “The challenge facing nations today is no longer deciding whether conservation is a good idea, but rather how it can be implemented in the national interest and within the means available in each country.”
Over the last 28 years the conservation of biodiversity seems to have dropped down the Sustainable Development agenda. It is hard for wildlife charities to understand how or why this has happened. There can be few things more blatantly unsustainable than the extinction of species and the destruction of ecosystems.
Recent decisions by the current Government have been disheartening, it took ages to even confirm that there was a biodiversity minister in post and so far the only obvious wildlife affecting decision, in the six weeks since his appointment, that Rory Stewart has taken has been to allow farmers to use banned bee-killing agrotoxins on oilseed rape. This decision has thrown confidence in the Government’s commitment to the National Pollinator Strategy into disarray. Buglife has asked to meet the Biodiversity Minister so that we can propose ways that we can start to rebuild trust and benefit pollinators and other bugs so that the future is more sustainable.
The remaining glimmer of hope that we have is that the Government has committed to a 25 year wildlife recovery plan, we must work hard to make sure that this is a plan that will work for bugs, but only the public can force Government to act to look after our planet.
On Saturday 8th August a large fire swept through an area of the Canvey Wick nature reserve, located in South Essex, requiring the attendance of 5 fire crews, including a specialist unit, to put out the blaze.
An area approximately two hectares in size (about two football pitches) of grass, scrub and reed, was burnt.
Canvey Wick is a special site, having the highest number of different species of wildlife per square metre than any other site in the UK. It is also home to many rare species of insects which is why the site was the first Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to be designated specifically for invertebrates.
Natalie Holt, RSPB Senior Sites Manager, said: “We are disappointed that the reserve has seen a number of fires over the past few weeks. Every time this happens, habitat and special plants and animals that live here are destroyed. This fire will have affected many species including adders, great crested newts, lizards, butterflies, moths and rare bumblebees.
“We are grateful to the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service for attending the incident and putting out the fire.”
Fires are one challenge of managing nature reserves, particularly in dry conditions.
Natalie continued: “Unfortunately we usually see an increase in fires in the summer months due to dry conditions, coinciding with school holidays. At the RSPB we actively encourage children and families to get closer to nature on our reserves. We are urging our visitors to be alert to the risk of fire at Canvey Wick at this time of year and to act responsibly.
“It is vitally important that people act in an environmentally aware manner when using the site. We ask people not to have bonfires or BBQs, and to stick to the marked trails.”
The RSPB is asking visitors to remain vigilant when on nature reserves and report any fires as soon as possible by phoning 999, or anti social behaviour by contacting the RSPB South Essex office on 01268 498620.
Canvey Wick is a nature reserve managed in partnership by the RSPB, Buglife and the Land Trust.
Amazing miniature ‘beetle cottages’ co-designed by Lifeforms and Buglife for one of our rarest bugs, the beautiful Scarlet malachite beetle, have had their first success! For the first time a Scarlet malachite beetle emerged from a larvae that was found in one of these special cottages this summer.
This extraordinary red and green bug is thought to lay its eggs in the roofs of thatched cottages near the flowering meadows used by the adults. As this traditional material is becoming increasingly uncommon, Buglife set out to establish miniature cottages on key sites in Essex to see if these amazing bugs would take up residence. And sure enough, they have!
Vicky Kindemba, Buglife’s Conservation Delivery Manager, said: “The innovative use of cottage nurseries could help us to ensure the survival of this mesmerising species. Hopefully we can now help and inspire people to build more cottages in important meadows for the beetle.”
This exciting project was funded by Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust and was run in collaboration with natural history company Lifeforms. Ian Hughes of Lifeforms, and a Scarlet malachite expert, said: “This exciting news confirms that the cottages work! The Scarlet malachite beetle is in desperate need of our help to ensure its survival and this is an important first step in understanding how we can make this happen.”
This is excellent news to take into the future. With evidence of the cottages success, we have a solid foundation to build upon to help us understand the beetle’s fascinating ecology.
The first harvest results of winter oilseed rape planted without neonicotinoid seed treatments have come in, and farmers are experiencing a better than usual crop – yields are higher than the 10 year average.
ADAS, the UK’s largest independent agricultural consultancy today confirmed that with 15% of the oilseed rape harvested, yields are between 3.5 and 3.7 tonnes/ha, higher than the normal farm average of 3.4.
This makes a total nonsense of the Government’s recent controversial decision to allow these banned bee-killing agrotoxins to be used in four eastern counties as an ‘emergency’ measure. Particularly concerning is the fact that most of the harvest data comes from eastern England where 40% of the crop has already been brought in.
Matt Shardlow, Buglife’s CEO said “This is further evidence that neonicotinoids are not essential to maintaining crop yields. While some farmers struggled to establish their oilseed rape crop because the weather last year was ideal for flea beetles, where they have persisted the results have been good. We seem to have forgotten that bees and other pollinators are essential to good crop yields, in the trade off this year pollinators may have had a bigger positive effect than any negative impact of flea beetles.”
Buglife is calling on the UK Government to reconsider its decision to allow the use of banned bee toxins now that it is clear that there is no ‘emergency’ and indeed that bees have helped farmers bring in a bumper crop.
Buglife have been invited to talk at the Scottish Arachnologists annual meeting about our important invertebrate conservation work as well as some of our projects with spiders.
Geolocation is 56.3981359, -3.42759599999999
Join Dr Scott Shanks from Buglife and members of the IFLI team to find out more about the Forth Nature Counts project, and how we’ve been helping local families and individuals to get started with biological recording at our citizen science Bioblitz events.
There have been some fantastic sightings logged using our iRecord form and we’ve discovered some remarkable species that are under-recorded in the Inner Forth Area.
Find out more about the project, new discoveries and the highlights of our first year of bioblitzing during this lunch-time talk.
Geolocation is 56.1185621, -3.97892419999994
Join Buglife at the Edinburgh Festival!
We’ll be making homes for ladybirds and lacewings and talking about woodland bugs.
The event is being run on the corner of Potterrow and Marshall Street, Edinburgh EH8 9BT, as part of the Edinburgh Festival Family Fun Programme.
Geolocation is 55.9456514, -3.18695839999998
Join Buglife and other nature loving organisations for a day of exploration in the woods. We’ll be showing you all the different types of bugs and creepy crawlies that live in the woodland.
On the day, you can join a nature scavenger hunt and make your own woodland creature to take home.
Please use public transport or walk/cycle to us. If you have to drive please park at the carpark next to Old Scone Parish Church and follow the signs.
Geolocation is 56.394994, -3.43083799999999
The Celebrating Scottish Invertebrates project has promoted the importance of invertebrates to communities across Scotland through a series of talks, bug walks, school visits and other events.
With their long antennae, golden eyes and 2 pairs of transparent wings that are nearly twice as long as their abdomen, the Common green lacewing stands at 10mm. As their name suggests, these dazzling creatures can be found pretty much everywhere in high volume. They are present almost all year round; however their main appearance is from May-September.
Time for a change
Even though their name suggests they are all green, Common green lacewings do vary in colour and some are striking shades of blue. During the cold winter months, adult lacewings snuggle up and hibernate, mainly in buildings. With the change in season, adults feel it’s time for a change too! Their colour goes from a beautiful shade of green or blue to a yellowish-brown colour, often with red spots on their bodies whilst they overwinter.
Greedy little bugs!
Green lacewing larvae have somewhat of a very large appetite. They feed on a variety of smaller invertebrates such as aphids, insect eggs, caterpillars and scale insects, piercing them with their long sharp mouth parts and sucking out their body fluids. Due to their ferocious , carnivorous appetite the larvae have earnt the title of ‘aphid lions’, eating over 200 aphids and other creepy crawlies per week! Proper little predators! However, when the larvae mature into adults, they lose their carnivorous ways and adopt a more refined diet, feeding off nectar, pollen and honeydew.
Picking up good vibrations
Once adult lacewings have found their special someone, all adults perform a pre-mating ritual known as tremulation. This is a low frequency sound, produced when adults vibrate their abdomens. In turn, these vibrations cause the lacewings perch to vibrate as well.
Both the male and female perform this ritual, taking it in turns to create a duet of buzzing love! Mating cannot take place without this pre-mating performance.
Where do they live?
The Common green lacewing can be found in gardens, fields, hedges and the edge of woodland amongst tall grasses, herbaceous plants, trees and bushes.
Did you know?
The Common green lacewing is one of 18 species of green lacewings to be found in Britain.