2016 marks the fifth year of the ‘Oil beetle hunt’ a nationwide survey led by Buglife. We need your help to build an accurate picture of where oil beetles are found in the UK.
Oil beetles are impressive and intriguing insects. Their large, glossy, black bodies tinted blue or purple, long fat abdomens and stunted wing-cases and make them almost unmistakable as they amble along on the ground.
We currently have five species of oil beetle in the UK, one previously thought extinct in the UK was rediscovered during the survey, but sadly they are either very rare or declining, possibly due to the decline in their host bees caused by habitat loss, pesticides and climate change. Three species of oil beetle have already become extinct from our islands.
This is why we need your help to understand where oil beetles can still be found in the UK. Now is the ideal time to look for our more widespread species-the Black oil beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus) and the Violet oil beetle (Meloe violaceus) as well as the rare the Rugged oil beetle (Meloe rugosus). Check footpaths when you are walking through fields, heathland, coastal areas or woodland where they can be found looking for mates and nesting sites and feeding on path-side flowers.
If you find an oil beetle, take photographs from above which clearly show the top of the thorax (mid-section) to identify the species using our online identification guide. Then submit your record using the recording form on our website. You can submit a record even if you do not know the species.
Your records of oil beetles help us to target conservation efforts to protect important populations of the beetles and the bees they rely on. They also help us make ground-breaking discoveries. Already, the project has led to the discovery of many new sites for oil beetles and the rediscovery of the Mediterranean oil beetle (Meloe mediterraneus) in the UK after we thought it was extinct here! What will you discover?
To record your Oil beetle sightings and to learn more about these fascinating insects visit Buglife’s Oil Beetle Hunt page.