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.
Though our Oil Beetle Survey has now ended, a National Oil Beetle Recording Scheme has been established to continue to generate records of these beetles to help us to understand more about their abundance, distribution and ecology in the UK. If you see an oil beetle, please submit details of your sighting(s) to the recording scheme – further information, including a recording form, can be found here. You can use our oil beetle identification guide to help with identification – this guide is also available in Welsh.
As nest parasites of wild bees, oil beetles have fascinating life-cycles. Such highly specialised life-cycles, however, make them vulnerable to environmental change. Declines in the quality and quantity of wild bee habitat, particularly wildflower-rich grasslands, has contributed to a decline in wild bees and along with them, oil beetles. Three of the UK’s oil beetles are now extinct, and the remaining five species have suffered drastic declines in their distributions due to changes in the way our countryside is managed.