Monday, 19 April 2010
Rare Beetle Sighting
Head Keeper Colin Northcott is getting somewhat of a reputation for spotting rare wildlife around DZP. Hot on the heels of his recent spotting of a red kite, today he found what we're pretty sure is an Oil Beetle.
Otherwise known as a Blister Beetle, thanks to an oil secreted from its joints which can cause a variety of skin irritations, the Oil Beetle is part of a family that share a fascinating life-cycle. The larvae are parasitic upon some types of bees and grasshoppers. When hatched, they climb a flower stem and wait for a bee. Then, hitching a ride on the bee they gain entry to the hive where they feed on bee's eggs, pollen and nectar. The larvae then pupate in the bees nest, leaving to seek a mate once mature.
The species, meloe proscarabaeus is bluish black in colour with a long swollen abdomen. We believe the one pictured here is male since the abdomen in the female is particularly pronounced. We are able to make this comparison because we actually found two in the same area.
As far as we are able to establish, the status of the beetle is 'vulnerable' numbers having declined drastically in recent years. One of the causes is thought to be the decline in bee population.
We'll be keeping a sharp eye out for the Oil Beetle in future. In the interests of their future welfare we suggest you do likewise.
Having educated all key staff on the status of the Oil Beetle, we just released this male back into the wild. Astonishingly the female we spotted yesterday was still around. They looked very happy together...