Join the Hunt for the Northern February red stonefly

Sunday 14th January 2018

Members of the public are being asked to help with a Scotland-wide survey to map the location of the Northern February red stonefly (Brachyptera putata).


The Northern February red stonefly was first found in the River Clyde in 1838, but now it mainly occurs in northern Scotland, particularly the north-east and the Highlands. Outside of Scotland, it has only been found in two other rivers, the Usk in Wales and the Wye near Hereford.


Buglife Scotland is asking for your help to map which rivers it lives in. This is the perfect time of year to spot the adult stoneflies as they bask on fenceposts in the winter sunlight. It’s easy to get involved – simply take a picture of the stonefly and send it to [email protected] or tweet it to @buglifescotland. More information is available in our survey flyer



Craig Macadam, Buglife’s Conservation Director, said “The Northern February red is a really special species. We’re really lucky to have this species in our rivers. Now is the perfect time to spot them, particularly on fenceposts alongside rivers. Look out for them as they bask in the winter sunshine.”


“The last national survey for this species was in 2010, so we desperately need to know where it now occurs. This simple photo survey will give us a greater understanding of the distribution of this stonefly so that we can target conservation efforts to protect important populations of this species.”


The Northern February red likes rivers with good water quality and lots of winter sunshine especially rivers that are in open heaths or upland pastures. The adults can be seen emerging on riverbanks in sunshine, from February to April. They are often encountered as they bask in the sun on fenceposts alongside the river. The males have short-wings making them poor at flying.  However, females are much better at flying and can move back upstream to find a mate.


Their nymphs are found among stones in rivers. Winter sunlight encourages the growth of different types of algae which is food for the larvae. They also need the high oxygen levels which are found in cold waters. This helps them to remain active and so the best time for them to develop is during the winter months.