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Extremely rare beetle, Bagous collignensis, discovered by entomologists at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve



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Entomologists in Dickleburgh are celebrating the discovery of a rare beetle that was last seen in Norfolk almost a century ago.

Bagous collignensis was last recorded in the county all the way back in 1925, before going unseen for almost 100 years.

That was until last month, when researchers Martin Collier and Steve Lane spotted the insect during a survey of Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve – a 50-acre former glacial lake owned by conservation charity The Otter Trust.

The bug was last recorded in the county all the way back in 1925, before going unseen for almost 100 years. Picture Credit of Weevil: Dr Christoph Benisch
The bug was last recorded in the county all the way back in 1925, before going unseen for almost 100 years. Picture Credit of Weevil: Dr Christoph Benisch

It marks the fourth recorded discovery of the species in the county – the others being from the late 1800s and early 1900s – and just one of a handful in the United Kingdom.

Ben Grief, director of conservation and education at The Otter Trust, said the latest discovery had underlined the importance of preserving the habitats of insects living in the moor.

He said: “This discovery highlights the importance of our site at Dickleburgh Moor and the desperate need for further surveys of fragmented wetland sites across the county to look for rare and under-recorded species.

“The River Waveney and its tributaries are home to an incredible variety of insects.

“But we need to act decisively now to ensure that we provide additional habitat for specific regional specialties, such as the swallowtail butterfly, fen raft spider and shining ram’s-horn snail.

“Everyone understands the importance of bees as pollinators, but all insects have a specific environmental niche and we should endeavor to preserve a natural balance, rather than excepting a continued decline.”

The bagous collignensis spend most of their time concealed among litter or matted algae, but will venture out in the warm weather.

The species have only been spotted around 20 times in the United Kingdom – predominantly within southern England – but are spread throughout Central and Western Europe and have been seen as far away as Kazakhstan and Siberia.

Because sightings of the bug are extremely rare, very little is known about their habits, but they are typically associated with well-vegetated margins of ponds, ditches and slow-moving rivers.

Trainee warden Aidan Jolly surveying insects at Dickleburgh. (57829885)
Trainee warden Aidan Jolly surveying insects at Dickleburgh. (57829885)

The Otter Trust, which was founded in 1971, works to restore habitats for wetland species through funding and education initiatives.

Since acquiring Dickleburgh Moor in 2016, the trust has spent more than £400,000 on buying land, maintenance and livestock, while working to improve management of the wet meadows and reconstruct a ditch system to manage water levels by flooding specific areas to benefit particular plants, insects and birds.

Ben Potterton, a trustee at the charity, said: “Lots of groups are talking about river pollution, but no one is actually attempting to study the biological changes to our rivers and remaining wetlands in south Norfolk.

“Our dedicated team of staff and volunteers have projects throughout the river catchment, monitoring birds, plants, mammals, fish and invertebrates, with the aim of increasing the records that will enable a better understanding of the conservation priorities in the future.”



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