Reporter 460, 4 December 2000

Beetles back to where they once belonged

Rare beetles are being released into the countryside in order to preserve the creature in its natural habitat.

The School of Biology has developed a special partnership with English Nature to release 180 of the beetles as part of a project to help sustain UK biodiversity.

Ross Piper releases some of the beetles

Dr Steve Compton and PhD student Ross Piper are undertaking a three-year project funded by English Nature’s species recovery programme. They will study the progress of the hazel pot beetle, pictured, so called because of the unusual way the female lays her eggs.

The grubs have a sliver of stainless steel attached so that their progress can be monitored by a metal detector.

Ross Piper said: "Following tiny beetle larvae among leaf litter on the ground is very difficult. The metal detector will allow us to track them and see where they hibernate."

He and Dr Compton aim to learn more about the beetle’s behaviour in order to preserve the creature in its natural habitat.

The hazel pot beetle was once widespread across England but is now in danger of becoming extinct. It is now so rare it is included on the government’s national diversity action plan.

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