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Excitement as rare beetle sighted in South Devon

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 13, 2012

The oil beetle had never been officially sighted in the South West before and was thought to have   died out in the UK more than 100 years ago

The oil beetle had never been officially sighted in the South West before and was thought to have died out in the UK more than 100 years ago

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A beetle hotspot on the South Devon coast has re-written the record books following the discovery of a species that was thought to be extinct.

The oil beetle had never been officially sighted in the South West before and was thought to have died out in the UK more than 100 years ago.

Local naturalist John Walters found the insect on National Trust land between Bolt Head and Bolt Tail, while carrying out a study for the charity Buglife – the Invertebrate Conservation Trust.

Before its rediscovery, the last recorded sighting of the Mediterranean species was in Kent in 1906.

John Walters said "The two to three centimetre long matt-black beetle resembles the rare rugged oil beetle, but the beetles I found were much larger and their larvae were a different colour.

"I investigated further and was amazed to find that they were a 'long lost' species!"

Andrew Whitehouse, Buglife's South West manager said: "The rediscovery of this beetle is great news, bringing the total number of oil beetles species in the UK up to five.

"However all of our oil beetle species remain under threat. The loss of wildflower-rich habitats and the decline in wild bee populations, upon which these beetles depend, are the main threats to oil beetles in the UK."

Andy Foster, biological survey team leader at the National Trust, said: "This is remarkable news, following the discovery of the rare short-necked oil beetle from the same area of South Devon only a few years ago, and demonstrates the value of detailed studies which can lead to such unexpected results.

"One can't help feeling there are other colonies out there just waiting to be found – it's crucial that we understand where these threatened species survive and understand more about their habitat requirements."

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