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Record numbers and new site discovered for rare beetle - Beuglife

Rock-rose Pot Beetles, one of England’s rarest beetles, have been found in record numbers and been rediscovered on a historical site

Rock Rose Pot Beetle (image: © Andy Brown)
Rock Rose Pot Beetle (image: © Andy Brown)

One of England’s rarest and most spectacular beetles has been seen in record numbers and has been re-discovered on a historical site thanks to the ambitious Limestone’s Living Legacies conservation project.

From its discovery in 1857 to 2003, there had been just 40 individual Rock-rose Pot Beetles recorded in the UK, with over half of these coming from sites within Gloucestershire. This endangered species had recently only been known from four locations, with two sites in Gloucestershire and the other two in Dorset and Hampshire.

With lockdown restrictions easing just in time for the start of this year’s survey season, the project was able to commence its 2020 surveys.

The 2020 survey results were nothing short of spectacular.

In a single visit to one of the Gloucestershire sites by Butterfly Conservation’s BftB Conservation Officer Julian Bendle, 39 Rock-rose Pot Beetles were recorded. This is equivalent to nearly the total number of beetles recorded in England over the past 150 years. Further visits by the project officers and Buglife, confirmed the presence of the beetles at both the Gloucestershire sites, with a total of 75 beetles seen in just five visits.

Project volunteers, Helen Taylor and her son, 15 year old Alasdair Hills, then found a single Rock-rose Pot Beetle at a third Gloucestershire site. The last record of the beetle at this site was 35 years ago and the species had been presumed lost from this location.

Subsequently finding a further 10 beetles at the site confirms that this elusive beetle is present on a third site in Gloucestershire, increasing the number of locations in England where it is found from four to five.

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