Wednesday 22nd September 2010
In a new survey launched this week in partnership with the national stick insect recording scheme, Buglife is asking for records and photographs of stick insects from Cornish gardens, parks and wild places.
Buglife’s South West Conservation Officer Andrew Whitehouse says “Not many people realise that we have stick insects living in the wild in the West Country – they are not native to the UK but are able to survive in the South West thanks to our mild winters”.
|Unarmed stick-insect (Acanthoxyla inermis) © Malcolm Lee|
"Stick insect eggs are unable to survive hard frosts, but in mild areas such as the Isles of Scilly and parts of Cornwall and Devon they are able to survive. It would seem we now have a few expanding colonies of these insects."
“Early Autumn is a good time of year to look for stick insects, as the weather gets colder they seek warmth by basking on south-facing walls – this makes them easier to spot.”
Malcolm Lee, Cornish-based stick insect expert, says “Stick insects arrived in this country on imported plants from New Zealand. The first species to arrive, the Prickly stick-insect (Acanthoxyla geisovii), was recorded in Paignton in 1909 and on Tresco on the Isles of Scilly in 1943. A second species, the Smooth stick-insect (Clitarchus hookeri), turned up on Tresco in 1949, and yet a third species, the Unarmed stick-insect (Acanthoxyla inermis), was found in Truro in 1979, but it may have been in a nearby nursery since the 1920s.”
“New records from this survey will help us to monitor how quickly stick-insects are spreading across the county – we hear of new populations every year. I am also interested to see if last year’s bitterly cold winter has had an impact on our Cornish stick insects – it is likely that many eggs will not have survived, but colonies have shown themselves to be surprisingly resilient and there will still be places where they have hung on.”
Andrew adds “Five years ago we had a fantastic response from readers of the Cornish Guardian – the stick insect recording scheme received sightings and photographs from all over the county – we are hoping for a similar result in 2010.”