Fenland wetland centre is making a home for one of UK's rarest beetles
Work to help create a better home for one of the country’s rarest beetles has been going on at a local wetland centre.
The Tansy beetle which exists at only three sites in the UK and one of them is at the Welney Wetland Centre.
Particular habitat management has been taking place this autumn to promote the type of wetland the tiny beetle prefers, as well as opening up new parts of the reserve to visitors.
It may be one of the smallest species on the reserve, but as far as beetles go it is one of the chunkiest around.
Tansy beetles are a protected species in the UK due to their restricted distribution. Threats such as loss of their food plant, summer flooding and mowing of riverbanks have contributed to the decline of this insect.
Leigh Marshall, centre manager, said: “This beautiful beetle is about 10mm long, iridescent green with stripes of red and gold, it is lovely to see. It was thought to be restricted to just two sites in the UK, Woodwalton Fen and the River Ouse in York, until Steve Lane and Andy Brown first found a few individuals on our wetlands in 2017.
“Having surveyed the site and monitored them since then we are now trying to encourage a more stable population by tweaking the habitat creating rides through scrub to open the cover up.”
Steve Lane, local ecologist, said: “We could never have expected to find this natural jewel in West Norfolk.
“Its discovery here is unprecedented and puts the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and Welney specifically, at the forefront of invertebrate conservation in the UK. We now need to ensure that its future is secure at the site through considered research, management and monitoring of the population and its habitat.”
Whilst there is still a fragile population at Welney, the centre is hoping some of the works may increase numbers and make a more robust population. Summer flooding is an ever present threat on the Ouse Washes, as has been seen sadly impacting our ground nesting birds in the spring and early summer.
Thanks to a grant from the Anglian Water Flourishing Environment Fund through (or managed by) Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, Welney WWT is able to try improving the habitat in the part of the reserve for the invertebrates at a critical time for the Tansy beetle.
Wetlands are incredible habitats for hundreds of thousands of species and summer is a great time of year to get closer to the diverse range of insects we can admire right here in the UK. The footpaths are all open from summer to autumn, including the summer walk where visitors can enjoy walking right through the wetland habitat in the heart of the Fens.