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.
Top tips for oil beetle hunting
How to look
You can either go out especially to look for oil beetles or you can keep your eyes peeled for oil beetles on all of your countryside walks and travels. Oil beetles are large, shiny, black and slow moving so they can be easy to spot.
Buglife Conservation Officer Andrew Whitehouse says: “Scan the footpath as you walk along and pay attention to the path edge. Oil beetles are often found near patches of spring flowers such as celandine and near to nesting mining bees – so look for flowers and buzzing!”
Where to look
Good places to look include bare ground near footpaths (as this is where they dig nest burrows), wildflower-rich grasslands, woodland edges and heathland.
Oil beetle are fascinating. Did you know that they depend on bees for their life cycle? As strange as it sounds looking for bees could lead you to an oil beetle. Look for wildflower areas or sandy soils where solitary bees may nest – these are hotspots for oil beetles.
When to look
The best time of year to look out for oil beetles in March to June. Most insects are more active on warm sunny days so bear this in mind before you head out on the hunt for oil beetles.
Getting close to an oil beetle
Buglife asks you not to disturb oil beetles. Although they are gentle creatures they can extrude a foul oil based liquid from their knee joints that may cause irritation. Remember oil beetles are under threat so if you do take a closer look be gentle and put the beetle back where you found it.
Taking photos of oil beetles
We would like to use your photos to identify the species of oil beetle that you have found. Here are some tips for taking photos of oil beetles:
- please try and take pictures as close as you can get to the beetle (use the macro setting on your camera if you have it), and make sure the beetle is in focus!
- one of the best identification features of oil beetles can be found at the base of the thorax (the middle bit of the beetle’s body) – please try and focus on this part of the beetle from the top down.
- taking a beetle photo in shade rather than direct sunlight can help us to see the different parts of the beetle clearly.
- if your beetle won’t stay still try giving it some celandine flowers to eat – it might stop for a snack!