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The Jewel of York has an extra reason to sparkle


The annual count of the endangered Tansy beetle shows a significant boost in the population since last year

The 2016 count of this iridescent leaf beetle, which is often referred to as the ‘Jewel of York’, estimates approximately 40,000 Tansy beetles in and around the York area. This represents a huge growth from the estimated population of 24,000 recorded in 2015.The annual count is carried out by a team of about 30 volunteers and surveys, in total, 90km of bank along the River Ouse around York.

Dr Geoff Oxford, Honorary Fellow at the University of York, who coordinates the annual count on behalf of TBAG (Tansy Beetle Action Group), commented, ‘Since the comprehensive surveys of the beetle on the Yorkshire Ouse began in 2009, this is by far the best year ever. Numbers are over 60% higher than in 2015, which was itself a record-breaking year.'

These 2016 figures continue an upward trend in population numbers since the multiple summer floods of 2012, when the count was at its lowest since records began.

The Tansy beetle is a beautiful, bright green and iridescent beetle that is endangered. It is found mostly along the banks of the River Ouse in and around York, with a much smaller population recently identified in Cambridgeshire. The Tansy beetle is dependent on Tansy plants as their sole food in York. However whilst Tansy is widespread along the River Ouse, land-use changes and the increase of invasive species such as Himalayan balsam have resulted in decline of the plants and reduction of the Tansy beetle’s habitat.


Buglife are currently delivering the Tansy Beetle Champions project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Ernest Cook Trust, and designed to both raise the profile of the Tansy beetle and to support a range of activities to improve the habitat on the riverbanks for the beetle. Julia Smith, Tansy Beetle Conservation Officer, said, ‘It’s great to see the Tansy beetle continuing such a strong growth in population, and we’ve had a wonderful opportunity, through the Tansy Beetle Champions project, to introduce many people to the Tansy beetle and to enable them to help to conserve it here in York.’

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