'Jewel' of a beetle found at Welney

Andy Brown and Kim Tarsey.

One of the rare Tansy beetles at Welney - Credit: Andy Brown and Kim Tarsey.

Habitat improvements are being carried out to help a rare beetle present at just a  handful of sites in the UK.

Small numbers of Tansy beetle live at the Welney Wetland Centre in the Fens near Downham Market.

It may be one of the smallest species on the reserve, but the insects are a protected species.

Threats such as loss of their food plants, summer flooding and mowing of riverbanks have contributed to the decline of this insect. 

Leigh Marshall, centre manager at Welney, said: ‘This beautiful beetle is about 10mm long, iridescent green with stripes of red and gold, it is lovely to see. It was thought to be restricted to just two sites in the UK, Woodwalton Fen and the River Ouse in York, until Steve Lane and Andy Brown first found a few individuals on our wetlands in 2017.  

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"Having surveyed the site and monitored them since then we are now trying to encourage a more stable population by tweaking the habitat creating rides through scrub to open the cover up’.  

Ecologist Mr Lane said: "We could never have expected to find this natural jewel in Norfolk. Its discovery here is unprecedented and puts The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and Welney specifically, at the forefront of invertebrate conservation in the UK.

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"We now need to ensure that its future is secure at the site through considered research, management and monitoring of the population and its habitat.’

Conservationists hope some of these work being carried out may increase numbers and make a more robust population.  Summer flooding is an ever present threat on the Ouse Washes,, which can impact on ground nesting birds in the spring and early summer. 

WWT Welney manages more than 1,300 acres of wetland habitat on and around the Ouse washes.  These wetlands are internationally important for several species of wintering wildfowl and nationally important as summer breeding grounds

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