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.
As nest parasites of wild bees, oil beetles have fascinating life-cycles. Such highly specialised life-cycles, however, make them particularly 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.