Jewels of Lough Erne

Reed beetles, the “jewels amongst the reeds” (Nelson, B., 2007) are brightly metallic species associated with waterside habitats, being found on reeds and other emergent marginal vegetation. Northern Ireland is a stronghold for several rare and threatened species of reed beetle in particular the Zircon reed beetle (Donacia aquatica) and Two-tone reed beetle (Donacia bicolora), with Upper Lough Erne being a vital site for these species. Both of these beetles are UK and Northern Ireland Priority Species for conservation action. The Northern Ireland population of Two-tone reed beetle is seen as the stronghold of both the Irish and UK populations. The Zircon reed beetle has greatly declined, having been lost from over 81% of its UK range.

Buglife are working in partnership .  Buglife will work in partnership with the National Trust, RSPB, Ulster Wildlife, Share Discovery Village and others to complete a pilot study of Lough Erne’s reed beetles, undertaking essential survey work to gather population and distribution data and develop a local species recovery plan for the Zircon and Two-tone reed beetles. This pilot project will run throughout the summer of 2021.

This exciting species focused project will help raise awareness of these rare beetles and the need for conservation action through surveys, training and workshops. We also hope to encourage people with a passion for wildlife to take part in our citizen science survey and look for the Zircon reed beetle. It is hoped that by having local people champion these species we can make a real difference in their community. One of the recommended conservation actions is to create new wetland pond complexes within the historic distribution of the beetles. We will identify opportunities to create new pond habitat to boost the populations of the Zircon and Two- toned reed beetles.

Buglife will work with interested parties, organisations, landowners and volunteers; any organisation or individual who wishes to be involved is invited to contact Anna Hart on [email protected].

Help us find the Zircon Reed Beetle in Northern Ireland. Further information can be found here.

Our thanks to the Lough Erne Landscape Partnership  (LELP) and the National Lottery Heritage Fund who funded this project.

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