The Scarlet malachite beetle (Malachius aeneus) is a tiny metallic red and green beetle. Once widespread across southern England and south Wales it is now so rare that it is only found in a handful of small sites. Adult Scarlet malachite beetles rely on unspoilt wildflower meadows but most have been lost to modern agriculture and development.
|Scarlet malachite beetle (Malachius aeneus) © Triston Bantock|
Appearing for only four weeks in May and June, the adults mate and then vanish without trace. Little is known about what the beetle needs in order to breed, and a successful captive breeding programme helps to identify possible ways to conserve this species in the wild.
Buglife Conservation Officer Andrew Whitehouse comments “Buglife has been surveying the Scarlet malachite beetle since 2004 to record where the surviving populations are - we found it on just 8 sites. This beautiful beetle is a real gem, however without conservation action it is at risk of disappearing from our countryside.”
Graham Smith, the entomologist working with Buglife to breed the beetles, says “Successfully breeding the Scarlet malachite beetle in captivity will enable Buglife to take forward the conservation work necessary to save this species.”
This is an exciting first step but there are many more mysteries to solve about this enigmatic creature.