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New home created for one of UK’s most endangered beetles

12/06/2012 10:22:17

Rare Streaked bombardier beetle. Photo copyright Craig Slawson

New ‘brownfield' site created for rare beetle
June 2012. Wildlife charity, Buglife - The Invertebrate Conservation Trust and The University of East London (UEL) have created a new home for one of the UK's most endangered invertebrates - the Streaked bombardier beetle (Brachinus sclopeta).

Only recently found in the UK
In the UK, the Streaked bombardier beetle has only recently been found on a couple of ex-industrial sites called brownfields in the Thames Gateway, London. One of these brownfield sites, had already been destroyed.

Just days before their second home was due to be destroyed, fifteen Streaked bombardier beetles were rescued in an emergency operation. The beetles have now been re-homed on a new designer brownfield site at the University of East London's Docklands Campus.

Sarah Henshall, Buglife Brownfield Manager said "Wildlife rich brownfields are being lost at an alarming rate in the Thames Gateway, not enough is being done to protect the homes of endangered animals. Buglife and the University of East London had no choice, we had to create new habitat for the Streaked bombardier beetle on the nearby UEL Docklands Campus site".

Mock brownfield habitat
Buglife and UEL created a mock brownfield habitat using over 60 tonnes of bricks, chalk and rubble, the brick was kindly donated by Wienerberger Ltd and the other material was funded by London Pleasure Gardens.

A mock brownfield site was created to as habitat for the Streaked bombardier beetle. Photo credit Sarah Henshall.

A mock brownfield site was created to as habitat for the Streaked bombardier beetle. Photo credit Sarah Henshall.

Sarah Henshall, Buglife Brownfield Manager said "We are calling this new brownfield creation the ‘Beetle Bump' as we hope the mixture of rubble, bare ground and wildflowers will provide shelter, nesting sites and food for the Streaked bombardier beetle and other brownfield beetles".

Project Manager, Dr Stuart Connop, Research Fellow at the Sustainability Research Institute at UEL said: "It's fantastic that UEL has given a home to the Beetle Bump. We are providing an endangered member of Britain's wildlife with a chance of survival, and also demonstrating how nature can become an integral part of an urban community."

London Wildlife Trust, UEL and Buglife volunteers helped with the habitat creation which included plug planting a range of native wildflowers rich in pollen and nectar for pollinating insects such as beetles, bees and butterflies.

The site will be monitored by Buglife and UEL to check the progress of the Streaked bombardier beetle.

Sarah Henshall, Buglife Brownfield Manager said "We hope that this site becomes a new stronghold for the Streaked bombardier beetle, but only time will tell. We intend to use new habitat as an outdoor laboratory, studying the behaviour and needs of the beetle so we can make recommendations for the conservation of this on the brink of extinction beetle".

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