Ludham’s How Hill is now home to rare black longhorn beetles

A black longhorn‘beetle on meadowsweet blossom at How Hill in Ludham.
Picture: Red O’Hara

A black longhornbeetle on meadowsweet blossom at How Hill in Ludham. Picture: Red OHara - Credit: Archant

The presence of a rare beetle colony has been confirmed on the Norfolk Broads in what has been hailed as an exciting discovery by the Broads Authority.

The iconic view across to Turf Fen Mill next to the River Ant at How Hill.
Picture: James Bass

The iconic view across to Turf Fen Mill next to the River Ant at How Hill. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

A breeding site of black longhorn beetles has been found at How Hill at Ludham on a tall dead beech trunk.

It is the first time a colony of the scarce beetle, also known as stictoleptura scutellata, has been discovered in Norfolk or Suffolk.

The Boards Authority says the find shows the importance of maintaining deadwood for species dependant on its existence, such as the black longhorn beetles which live on dead alder stumps and branches.

Andrea Kelly, senior ecologist for the Broads Authority, said: 'The discovery of this conservation priority species shows the success of our work to retain the full age structure of trees, particularly old deadwood which this rare longhorn beetle requires.

'Deadwood plays a crucial role in all woodlands, not only by storing nutrients and carbon but also providing the specific conditions for fungi, lichens, bugs and beetles, mosses and birds, many of which have evolved to be entirely dependent on old wood.'

There there were no records at all of any black longhorn beetles in Norfolk or Suffolk until one was photographed on fen vegetation at Sutton Fen in July 2016.

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Then on June 27 this year one was photographed feeding on meadowsweet blossom at How Hill by Red O'Hara and, after several unsuccessful visits by Martin Rejzek, a national longhorn expert, and Martin Collier, Norfolk Beetle Recorder, the breeding site was then discovered by the secret gardens, which were established by the original owner of How Hill House, Edward Thomas Boardman in 1904.

Mr Collier is keen for the public to alert him to any sightings they may have of beetle.

He said: 'These handsome longhorn beetles are likely to be present at more Norfolk sites and if people see them, or other types of longhorn beetles, they can report them by sending a photo with details to norfolk.beetles@gmail.com.'

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