The Northern February red (Brachytera putata) is an insect and is part of the stoneflies these insects have larvae (young) that live in the water of rivers and it has flying adults. It is different to other stonefly species as it is found only in Britain and no where else in the world making it a special 'endemic' species.
Where does it live?
In Britain it mainly occurs in Scotland, particularly north-east Scotland and the Highlands. Outside of Scotland, it has only been found in two other rivers the Usk in Wales and the Wye near Hereford.
|The Northern February red larva (Brachytera putata) © Mike Hammett|
A perfect home
This stonefly likes rivers with good water quality and lots of winter sunshine; they prefer rivers that are in open heaths or upland pastures.
The adults can be seen emerging on riverbanks in the winter sunshine, during spring, from February to April. The males have short-wings making them poor at flying, however, females are much better at flying as they move back upstream to find a mate.
The Northern February red adult (Brachytera putata)
© Mike Hammett
Cold water is best
Larvae are found among stones in rivers. Winter sunlight encourages the growth of different types of algae which is food for the larvae. They also need the high oxygen levels which are found in cold waters, this helps them to remain active and so the best time for them is during the winter months. It is believed that young larvae move into deep waters during the summer months, where they rest and remain cool waiting for the cold of winter.
Upland Dingle waterfall the perfect home for stonefly larva
© Jugger Howe Dale
Why does this stonefly need help?
This species is a priority conservation species in the UK as it numbers are currently in decline. The decline of this rare beast is due a number of different human induced factors including acidification, chemical pollution and high levels of nutrients in the water.
What is Buglife doing to help?
Buglife is currently working in collaboration with the Riverfly Partnership on the conservation of the Northern February red. With help from the Partnership, funding was secured from the Natural England Countdown 2010 fund to undertake conservation work on riverfly species of conservation concern. Survey work will be undertaken by specialists and volunteers in the Angling Monitoring Initiative. There will also be delivery of conservation actions and improving understanding and knowledge of this species. To read more about the project please click here.