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Oil Beetle Hunt

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.

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.

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 submitting your sighting records and uploading your photos. Your records can make a real difference to our oil beetle conservation work.

If you need help to identify the oil beetles you find, you can download the oil beetle identification guide.

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.

oil beetle hunting (c) Buglife

As well as taking part in our oil beetle hunt please explore our webpages for more information on oil beetle conservation.

More information on the distribution of oil beetles is needed to allow us take effective conservation action. By sending us your oil beetle records you are playing an important part in the conservation of these magnificent insects. You can use the downloadable recording sheet to keep track of important information while your out hunting.

Oil beetles species recovery programme
Buglife are working in partnership with the National Trust and Oxford University Museum of Natural History on the oil beetle species recovery programme. The project is supported by Natural England.
Our aim is to conserve the UK’s oil beetles through improving our understanding of their distribution and ecology, and taking practical action to enhance sites for oil beetles and wild bees.

With support from our partners and people like you we hope to:

  • Gather new data to assess the distribution of oil beetles in the UK, and the health of oil beetle populations, through our National oil beetle survey.
  • Undertake research to better understand oil beetle ecology and habitat requirements.
  • Provide habitat management advice to protect and enhance sites for oil beetles, wild bees and wildflowers.
  • Undertake practical management on selected sites.