‘Extinct’ British oil beetle rediscovered in Devon

This video is about oil beetles in Britain.

From Wildlife Extra:

‘Extinct’ in UK oil beetle rediscovered in Devon

‘Extinct’ oil beetle discovery not seen since 1906

December 2012. A beetle hotspot on the South Devon coast has re-written the record books for the second time in six years with the discovery of an oil beetle which was has not been seen in UK since 1906 and was thought to have been extinct there for more than one hundred years.

Last seen in UK in 1906

Before its rediscovery, the Mediterranean oil beetle (Meloe mediterraneus) had been found in the South East of England in Essex and Kent. The beetle was last recorded in Kent in 1906, and had not been seen since, until rediscovered this autumn. Local naturalist John Walters found the oil beetle on National Trust land between Bolt Head and Bolt Tail on the beautiful south Devon coast, while carrying out a study for the charity Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust.

Leading beetle expert, Darren Mann of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History confirmed the discovery making this the first record in the UK for over 100 years, and the first ever for South West England.

John Walters said “The 2 to 3 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. Buglife is working to better understand the needs of oil beetles and how best to conserve them”.

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.”

To download a free oil beetle identification chart and report your oil beetle sightings visit the Buglife website www.buglife.org.uk/oilbeetles

Oil beetles

Buglife’s national oil beetle conservation project is a partnership project with the National Trust and Oxford University Museum of Natural History and is funded through Natural England’s Species Recovery programme. The project was launched in 2011. Eight species of oil beetles have been recorded in the UK but three are thought to be extinct.

Two ‘Extinct in UK’ beetles rediscovered

Two species that were thought to be extinct, the Short-necked oil beetle (Meloe brevicollis) and now, the Mediterranean oil beetle (Meloe mediterraneus), have now been rediscovered this century – both in south Devon. Both these species are now known from just one site in England however the Short-necked oil beetle was subsequently found on a site in Scotland.

The name ‘oil beetle’ derives from the fact that the adult beetles are able to secrete a toxic oil called cantharadin from their leg joints. It is thought to repel predators. British oil beetles have declined due to habitat loss, changes in land management and a decline in solitary bee populations.

Oil beetle life cycle

Oil beetles are nest parasites of solitary ground-nesting mining bees that emerge in the spring. The adult oil beetles will lay up to 1000 eggs in a burrow in soft or sandy soil. The young larvae are unusual in being very active and long-legged and are known as triungulins after their three-clawed feet. They climb up flower stems and lie in wait for a suitable host bee. When a bee comes to collect pollen and nectar from the flower, the tiny triungulins grab hold of the hairs on the bee’s back and are carried away to the bee’s nest. There the louse-like triungulins drop off, eat the bees eggs and spend the rest of the year growing fat on the stores the bee collected for her own young.

Mediterranean oil beetle

One reason for the Mediterranean oil beetle (Meloe mediterraneus) remaining undiscovered was that specimens were mistaken for the similar-looking Rugged oil beetle (Meloe rugosus).

The adult Mediterranean oil beetle is slightly larger than the Rugged oil beetle, and has a larger thorax. The Rugged oil beetle also has a crease down the centre of the thorax that is absent in the Mediterranean oil beetle. The triungulins (larvae) are probably more distinct with the Mediterranean oil beetles being entirely orange whereas the Rugged oil beetle triungulins have a distinctly dark head.

Oil beetles in the Netherlands: here.

January 2014: Having decreased by 15 per cent Britain’s soldier beetles and allied species are now sufficiently endangered to join a new ‘red list’ of species under greatest threat of extinction.The ‘Review of the Scarce and Threatened Beetles of Great Britain’ assesses the conservation status of soldier beetles and their allies, named after their often bright colours which reflect the bright red jackets once worn by soldiers: here.

It’s a bad idea for a toad to swallow a bombardier beetle. Even when swallowed, this insect can spray hurl-inducing hot chemicals from its rear: here.

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British soldiers’ murder of Iraqi receptionist

This video says about itself:

UK doctor acted ‘dishonestly’ in Iraq

Doctor found guilty of dishonest conduct in death of Iraqi arrested by British soldiers in Basra.

Last Modified: 16 Dec 2012 20:26

A former British army doctor has been found guilty of dishonest conduct over the death of an Iraqi prisoner.

The charges against Dr Derek Keilloh date back to 2003, when hotel receptionist Baha Mousa died after being arrested by British soldiers in Basra.

Mousa suffered 93 seperate injuries while in their custody – but Dr Keilloh had repeatedly denied any knowledge of the injuries.

Now, a medical watchdog has found him guilty of acting dishonestly – and failing to protect detainees.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Potter reports.

New Zealand kakapo parrot problems

This video says about itself:

Ben Taylor – Conservation volunteer from the UK

Ben Taylor’s story, volunteering with the Kakapo recovery program on Whenua Hou (Codfish island), New Zealand.

From Wildlife Extra:

Cold & wet spring kills hopes for kakapo breeding season

Poor rimu fruit harvest means just a few kakapo will nest this season

December 2012. Kakapo Recovery programme manager Deidre Vercoe Scott said indications from earlier in the year suggested a reasonable rimu fruit supply on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island this summer.

“We’ve spent the past few months preparing for up to 15 nests on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, but the latest data from the island suggests we may be looking at only several nests this season. It is most likely that the record cold, wet Southland spring had stopped the rimu fruit – which female kakapo feed to their chicks – from developing. It is thought female kakapo use the availability of the fruit as a cue for breeding,” she said.

67% decline in fruit abundance

“Our rimu fruit count last month shows there has been a 67 percent decline in fruit abundance since it was last counted in February. Compare that to the 38 percent we lost after the big September snow in 2010 and it’s obvious the fruit has been hit hard.”

As a result, plans to recruit volunteers to mind the nests had been cancelled, Ms Vercoe Scott said.

“Luckily, all is not lost. There are some trees with good supplies and, if they’re located in a female’s home range, we’d still expect some nesting to occur.”

Supplementary food pellets

Part of the work being carried out by Kakapo Recovery involves trialling supplementary food pellets that scientists hope will be accepted by female kakapo, as an alternative to rimu, to feed their chicks. Several volunteers including workers from New Zealand Aluminium Smelters and Forest and Bird, key partners in Kakapo Recovery, would be assisting with the supplementary food trials this season, she said.

April 2013. Hopes for a successful breeding season for kakapo on Anchor Island were dashed prior to Christmas, following the discovery that, due to a particularly cold southern spring (Sounds familiar), the rimu fruit crop had been hit hard: here.

Woodpecker, blackbird on balcony

This is a video of a great spotted woodpecker making a drumming sound. Not, like usually, on a tree, but on a TV antenna.

This afternoon, a male great spotted woodpecker.

It was eating the grease on the top of the nest box above the balcony.

Then, it flew to the tree behind the balcony. Then, it flew away.

Soon, two wood pigeons in the tree. On a roof behind the tree, two magpies.

Later, a female blackbird on the balcony, eating seeds from a bowl. While a male blackbird sat in the tree.

In the morning, there had been chaffinches in the tree.

And, of course, many great tits and blue tits at the feeders.

Very Inspiring Blogger award, thanks II 4S Aopmrdd!


After all the bloggers who were so kind to nominate Dear Kitty. Some blog for awards, today another award.

Thank so very much II 4S Aopmrdd,  for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger award!

The rules are to thank and link back to the blogger which has nominated you, then post the award logo to your blog, write a post on the nomination and nominate 15 other very inspiring bloggers. Notify them; and tell 7 things about yourself.

Seven things about myself:

1. In the Antarctic, I saw a humpback whale jumping out of the sea.

2. On that journey, I also saw, fleetingly, another whale. Probably a minke whale.

3. From the ferry from Turkey to Lesbos island in Greece, I saw common bottlenose dolphins.

4. I saw two common porpoises on Schiermonnikoog island in the Netherlands.

5. Unfortunately, these beached porpoises were dead.

6. On Texel island outside Ecomare museum, I saw a sperm whale … well, a model of a sperm whale 🙂

7. In front of Ecomare museum, I saw a “hotel” for solitary bees and other insects, made of old bottles, straw, etc.

Here come my fifteen nominees:

1. The Illustrious Peacock

2. Screwiness-o-rama

3. Corina Lăzărescu

4. Lila’s Twist

5. Sherbet and Sparkles

6. Daina’s Book

7. vienaqui

8. dlightblog

9. Elisa Ruland

10. twng32

11. Before I Forget

12. Mind Games

13. Brandon Bored

14. Serendipity

15. LilyPetal