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30 Jul 2014
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Bob Walker Endangered Beetles

by Bob Walker
An unusual conservation project involving an endangered species of beetle, metal detectors and a powerful chemical irresistible to foxes is yielding some interesting results in the Lincolnshire countryside.

Thereís been growing concern about the fate of the little-known hazel pot beetle which is thought to exist in only three colonies across Britain.

English Nature and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust have tried to create a new colony of beetles at the Whisby Nature Reserve by moving larvae from one of the few known sites at Woodhall Spa. Theyíve also glued tiny stainless steel strips to the backs of the beetles in an attempt to keep track of them using metal detectors.

"Following a tiny beetle larva among leaf litter on the ground is very difficult," said PhD student entomologist Ross Piper from Leeds University.

"The metal detector will allow us to track them and see where they hibernate."

Already the project has learned that the beetles donít travel far from their "birth" sites. A few had moved some 30 metres but most had stayed put.

"They seemed to have lost the ability or will to travel far," said English natureís Roger Key.

Itís thought the loss of large areas of heathland and the creation of smaller and unconnected nature reserves could be responsible for the decline of the Hazel Pot Beetle and other species.

The study has also found that 90 per cent of the beetles at Whisby fall prey to the attentions of hungry wood mice.

Experts now plan to paint the larvae with a chemical known to be highly attractive to foxes. The hope is that the presence of the foxes will frighten away the mice and thus protect this fledgling colony of Hazel Pot Beetles.

Lincolnshire WildLife Trust:
Lincolnshire Biodiversity Action Plan

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Hazel Pot Beetle
The Hazel Pot Beetle only exists in three colonies accross Britain.
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hazel pot beetle larvae
Many of the hazel pot beetle larvae are eaten by woodmice.
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