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Volunteers needed for national beetle survey

A new national beetle survey has been launched by wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and Royal Holloway University of London. Volunteers are needed for a two week period in June to help find and record sightings of the noble chafer beetle, to help conservationists save this threatened species.

Noble chafers are small, beautiful beetles with iridescent, shiny green bodies (although also copper and gold) speckled with white, measuring no more than 2cm long. They live in traditional orchard habitats where they depend on old, decaying wood for food and shelter. However,  as with many native species, noble chafers are threatened with the loss of their primary habitat – the deadwood at the heart of old, decaying trees.

Volunteers will need to set up a harmless trap and fit it with a chemical lure – specially developed to attract noble chafer beetles. The trap will need to be checked daily and any beetles found photographed then released – noble chafers don’t bite, so it is safe to handle them. Full instructions and equipment will be given to all volunteers.

The beetle survey is being coordinated by Dr Deborah Harvey, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Royal Holloway, and is funded by PTES. To find out more and to take part, contact d.harvey@rhul.ac.uk.

Dr Deborah Harvey says: “Noble chafers are fascinating beetles – adults are typically only seen for a few weeks in a year, which is why this two-week survey period is essential in order to see how their populations are faring. It’s incredibly important for us to know where noble chafers are living and where they’re not, so we can work to ensure the survival of this native species.”

Laura Bower, Conservation Officer at PTES adds: “We know noble chafers have populations in the New Forest and in traditional orchards in Kent and the Three Counties, as well as some isolated records in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. We want to build on this and expand our knowledge of the noble chafer’s population range. Anyone in the UK can take part, so we hope that volunteers can help us by checking traditional orchards, gardens and wood pasture sites in areas where they are currently known to exist but also where we don’t yet have records, to see if they are there or not.”

Noble chafer beetle – Bryan Pinchen

Main image: Noble chafer beetle – Matt Smith

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