Rare bug spotted for first time in more than 30 years

image copyrightGenevieve Tompkins

A rare insect has been spotted in Scotland for the first time in more than 30 years.

The cow wheat shieldbug was found in woodland in Strathspey in the Cairngorms.

The discovery marked only the eighth time the bug has been recorded in Scotland.

Four of the previous records have come from Strathspey, one from Perthshire in 1879, one from Argyll and Bute in 1890 and one from Loch Rannoch in 1989.

The insect has a black body featuring two distinctive white spots.

It is considered to be nationally scarce across the UK, and scientists said there had been "worrying declines" of the creature in the south-east of England in recent years.

'Vital clues'

The insect feeds on cow wheat, a plant common in Scotland. However, the cow wheat shieldbug survives where the plant grows in sheltered grassy or wooded areas with a warm micro-climate.

Genevieve Tompkins, a field worker from the Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms partnership project, found the Strathspey bug.

She said: "Insects are hugely under-recorded, but give us vital clues as to the health of our habitats.

"It is sad that this bug has suffered from a decline in traditional woodland management.

"However, there is hope, with diverse woodlands once more becoming a key feature of the Cairngorms National Park."

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