Go wild for beetles this summer

Monday 07 June, 2021

Have you seen a two-spot bishy barnabee, a scorpion impersonator or a male beetle with swollen hind legs? This summer Norfolk Wildlife Trust is asking people to share their sightings of three brilliant beetles to show how important gardens can be to support nature.

Every season, NWT runs a wildlife spotter survey, asking you to help Norfolk's wildlife by sending them sightings of three species. You don't have to be an expert – all you need to do is log where you spot them. This summer they are looking for reports of two-spot ladybirds, Devil’s coach horse beetle and thick-legged flower beetle.

The survey supports a national ‘Bringing Back Beetles’ campaign from The Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society. The UK has more than 4,000 beetle species. The two charities are calling on gardeners to create habitats for these important but often overlooked insects which are a vital part of every healthy garden. Providing a patch for beetles, including ladybirds and ground beetles, is a great way to encourage balance in the garden and boost biodiversity, with many species under threat from habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change.       

Gemma Walker, Senior Community Officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust said: “Beetles are a vital part of any wildlife garden. They will munch on garden insects like aphids and snails, while acting as food for our larger garden visitors such as hedgehogs and birds. Unfortunately, beetle populations are threatened by things like pesticides, habitat loss and climate change - but you can help! We have a free guide to download about Bringing Back Beetles in your own garden, which has instructions for building your very own beetle bucket, beetle bank, or dead hedge. 

“We hope you will also enjoy joining in our beetle survey! We hope people in Norfolk will spot in their gardens and on their local patch and are asking all sightings to be added to our wildlife spotter map.”

The Two-spot ladybird (Adalia bipunctata) has declined over the last decade, with one of the factors believed to be linked to the presence of the non-native harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis). It is believed that the two-spot has declined in areas where the harlequin has become established. The 2-spot ladybird is usually red with two black spots on the wing cases, but it also comes in a variety of other colour forms, right through to black with two red spots.

The Devil’s coach horse (Staphylinus olens) is a ferocious and fast predator which hunts invertebrates after dark in gardens and on grasslands It is well-known for curling up its abdomen like the tail of a scorpion when defending itself. It is an all-black, medium-sized beetle, with large jaws and a tail that it holds cocked in a characteristic, scorpion-like position.

The thick-legged flower beetle (Oedemera nobilis) is a showy bright metallic green beetle. It is not of conservation concern; in fact it may be increasing in number and range. Measuring between 8 and 11mm in length, it has wing cases that taper so that a gap grows between them towards the tips. Look out for the males who have swollen thighs, given this beetle its name. 

As with all wildlife records, NWT will share the data with Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service.  The summer beetle survey runs June, July and August. Add sightings online at: www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk/spotter 

Image credits: Two-spot ladybird by John Bridges; Thick-thighed flower beetle by Stephanie Wenn; Devil's coach horse by Nick Goodrum
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