Welcome to the Oil beetle hunt
This spring, for the third year running, we are searching for oil beetles and we need your help!
There are five species of oil beetles in the UK, the Black oil beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus), the Violet oil beetle (Meloe violaceus), the Short-necked oil beetle (Meloe brevicollis), the Rugged oil beetle (Meloe rugosus) and the Mediterranean oil beetle (Meloe mediterraneus). The first three can be found in the spring and we need your help to monitor their distribution to aid our conservation work.
|I found an oil beetle! © Murray Sharpe|
Oil beetles are conspicuous, charismatic insects which are often encountered when out walking and enjoying the countryside. Their habit of seeking out bare compacted earth in which to dig nest burrows means that they are frequently seen on footpaths. The best time of year to look for oil beetles is March to June.
Thanks to your help in 2011, we added over a thousand new records to our database. These data allowed us to map changes in oil beetle distribution. Although there are still some strongholds for oil beetles, the maps showed that oil beetles have decreased in range. For more on the results of the 2011 survey and to look at the maps, follow this link
If you need help to identify the oil beetles you find, you can click on the link to download the oil beetle identification guide
How to take part
Please keep a look out for these beetles when walking in meadows, grasslands and open woodlands and let us know if you find them by recording your sightings and uploading your photos here or you can fill out our oil beetle recording sheet and post your sightings and photos to us. Your records can make a real difference to our oil beetle conservation work.
|Black oil beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus) © D Nesbitt|
Learn more about oil beetles
Oil beetles are incredible insects, but they are under threat. Four of Britain’s native oil beetles are thought to be extinct, and the remaining four species have suffered drastic declines due to the changes in the way our countryside is managed.
In partnership with the National Trust, Oxford University Museum of Natural History and Natural England we are working hard on an oil beetle conservation project. We are asking you to take part in the oil beetle hunt and record as much information as possible to help us continue our oil beetle conservation work.
Oil beetles are charismatic creatures with fascinating life cycles. As well as taking part in our oil beetle hunt please explore our webpages for more information on oil beetle conservation, take a look at the oil beetle photo gallery, and how about some fun oil beetle activities?