Scunthorpe Brownfields proving to be a haven for rare bugs

Tuesday 27th May 2014

A fantastic variety of wildlife has been recorded during Buglife’s three year study into the diversity of bugs found on North Lincolnshire brownfields. 

A grant of over £80, 000 from SITA Trust has enabled wildlife charity Buglife to recently complete a three year study into the types of bugs that can be found on North Lincolnshire brownfield sites, and what can be done to protect them. Working closely with project partners North Lincolnshire Council, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, Tata Steel and Humber Nature Partnership, six brownfield sites have been surveyed and managed to provide habitats where bugs and wildlife can thrive. The work in Scunthorpe forms part of Buglife’s national project to create networks of ‘Stepping Stones for Wildlife’ across the UK. 

Brownfield sites range from derelict areas in towns and cities through to disused quarries, extraction pits and old railway lines. In some cases brownfields can be compared to ancient woodland in terms of the vast number of bugs that they can support.

Due to loss of important habitats such as wildflower-rich grassland and heathland, a variety of wildlife including invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds are increasingly taking refuge on brownfield sites to find the food and shelter they need.

Funded through the Landfill Communities Fund, the Scunthorpe Stepping Stones for Wildlife project has helped to improve over 40 hectares of land to benefit bugs including bees, butterflies, beetles, flies and spiders. With the help of contractors and local volunteers, Buglife has created wildflower-rich habitat for wild pollinators such as bees, hoverflies, and moths; nesting habitat for solitary bees and wasps; and habitat and dead wood piles which provide shelter for beetles and spiders.

During the three year project, an amazing diversity of rare and common invertebrates have been recorded. 346 species of moths alone were recorded during a series of night-time surveys, including The Annulet (Charissa obscurata) which is a new species to the county of Lincolnshire! 

Other interesting finds include the rare Ruby tailed wasp (Chrysis viridula) that needs exposed sandy faces to create its nests, and the Grayling butterfly. Numbers of this butterfly continue to decline. However brownfield sites, like Tata Steel in Scunthorpe, are supporting important populations of Grayling due to the presence of grasses and wildflowers like Bird’s foot trefoil, that the caterpillars and adults need to feed on.

A variety of wildlife has been recorded during the project including orchids, common lizard, great crested newt, marsh harrier and red deer. This clearly demonstrates the importance of brownfields for wildlife to thrive, and for local communities to enjoy.