The Blue ground beetle (Carabus intricatus), a rare and globally threatened beetle, has been discovered at just its second known site in Wales, coinciding with the launch of a new project aimed to protect it and the ancient woodland habitat in which it is found.
Funded by the National Lottery, the ‘Blue Ground Beetle Project’, led by the invertebrate conservation charity Buglife Cymru, and in partnership with The Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw), will deliver habitat management work at Coed Maesmelin ancient woodland in Skewen, Neath Port Talbot, to improve habitat conditions for this extremely rare beetle. Surveys for Blue ground beetle will also been conducted in other suitable woodlands within the vicinity, and it is hoped that these will uncover further populations of this threatened beetle. Growing to over an inch long, the Blue ground beetle is a large and distinctive beetle with metallic blue markings, long legs and sculptured wing-cases. It has always been considered a rarity in Britain, and was once even thought to be extinct – until it was rediscovered in Dartmoor in 1994.
Until recently, the Blue ground beetle was seemingly confined to just handful of UK sites in Devon and Cornwall. In 2012, however, the beetle was discovered in a woodpile of a garage by a member of the public in Skewen. After contacting Buglife, the specimen was confirmed to be the Blue ground beetle and subsequent surveys found it to be present in nearby Coed Maesmelin – an ancient oak woodland owned and managed by The Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw). Until its discovery at Coed Maesmelin, it had never been recorded in Wales.
The discovery of a further site for Blue ground beetle has recently come to light through the keen observations of another Skewen resident who found a dead beetle in his garden. Commenting on this discovery and the new project, Clare Dinham from Buglife Cymru said “The discovery of the Blue ground beetle at just its second known site in Wales is very exciting and raises hopes of finding further populations of this rare beetle in the Neath Port Talbot and surrounding areas. The project also offers many opportunities for members of the public to get involved such as attending walks and talks, volunteer conservation task days and learning how to identify and survey for the Blue ground beetle”.
Chris Matts, The Woodland Trust said “It’s great to see this rare insect holding on in one of our woodlands in South Wales. When we purchased this site in 1998 we secured the site for local people to be able to enjoy one of the relatively ‘untouched’ ancient woodlands within Neath Port Talbot, with the Blue ground beetle now helping to tell the story of why our ancient woodlands are so important and irreplaceable and this project will help us to work with others to conserve other woodlands in the region”.
Richard Bellamy, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales says “Our natural heritage is a most precious resource and National Lottery money has helped to protect an amazing range of landscapes, habitats, and species of plants and animals. HLF is delighted to support the blue ground beetle project and hope that the improved habitat provided by dedicated volunteers will increase the numbers of this rare species within Neath Port Talbot.”
For further information about the project, please visit /blue-ground-beetle-project.