Limestone’s Living Legacies

Rodborough Common (c) Liam Olds

Back from the Brink has seen Buglife working on the Butterfly Conservation led Limestone’s Living Legacies which is working with landowners to restore and manage a network of grassland sites in the Cotswolds. These limestone grasslands support the threatened Rock-rose pot beetle (Cryptocephalus primarius) and Rugged oil beetle (Meloe rugosus), two striking and charismatic species that need help.

In 2020, our survey work focused on the fascinating Rock-rose pot beetle, which gets its name because both the adult beetle and the larvae feed on the Rock-rose plant, while the larvae live in a protective pot made by their mother from a waxy secretion that is rolled in her own droppings! From late May, three sites with modern or historic records were surveyed, revealing an impressive 86 beetles- incredibly there were more sightings in 2020 than during the entire time since their initial discovery around 1857! Importantly, the Rock-rose pot beetle was re-discovered at Rodborough Common, near Stroud, a where they had not been seen since 1985 and were presumed extinct. This is a huge relief and will help us to encourage more landowners to manage their grasslands sympathetically for wildlife and with this special beetle in mind. Given the number of adult beetle sightings this year, the Cotswolds can once again be considered a national stronghold for this endangered species.

In 2021, attention will turn back to the Rugged oil beetle where we are trying to find out more about its incredible lifecycle. Like all oil beetles in the UK, the larvae of the beetle hitch a ride on foraging bees by climbing up flowers and waiting for visitors, and once back at the nest they feed on the bee’s larvae. In spring, surveys will focus on which of the solitary bee species at Rugged oil beetle sites and which might be possible host species so that future management can be sure to cater for the needs of the right bees as well.

Rock rose pot beetle (c) Liam Olds

Limestone’s Living Legacies Back From The Brink project is a Re-Think nature partnership project supported by the Lottery Heritage Fund, The People’s Postcode Lottery and several other funders.

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