Call for collections information on the Tansy beetle

Can you and your collections help?

 

Do you have any Tansy beetle specimens with field collection data? 

 

This beautiful, bright green beetle is currently only known in the UK around York, but is recorded to have been ‘more widespread’ in the UK in the past. 

 

The detail of its past distribution isn’t clear – paper records are unreliable because the Tansy beetle can easily be confused with the rather similar Mint beetle.

 

Specimens accompanied by field collection data are therefore key, as we can verify their identity.

 

We are introducing this beautiful beetle to the Yorkshire Museum gardens, as part of a project to conserve this endangered species by the University of York and partners. More detailed information on past distribution will contribute to the University’s research.

 

We would very much appreciate your time. We will make sure we publicise any results, including your contributions, as part of a story that illustrates one aspect of the value of our wonderful collections. More on the Tansy beetle below via Natural England – Tansy beetle.

Tansy beetle

This beautiful, large (c.10 mm), iridescent green species is now found only along a 30 km stretch of the banks of the River Ouse around York. The beetle is endangered not only here but across its worldwide range. Its food plant, Tansy, is widespread, but factors such as shading by willows and Himalayan Balsam and livestock grazing have led to Tansy clumps disappearing, creating isolated beetle populations that can no longer reach one another.

Latin name: Chrysolina graminis

Population numbers: We know nothing about population sizes in the past. On the River Ouse, reliable evidence puts the beetle around 9 km further north than its current northern limit (excluding reintroduced populations). The species was definitely at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire, but was last recorded there in 1981.

Where to see and when: Adult beetles are active on Tansy clumps in either April/May or August/September, and most obvious on warm, sunny days. Look for these from public footpaths along the Ouse running either side of York.

What’s being done: The Tansy Beetle Action Group, made up of North Yorkshire County Council, the City of York Council, the Environment Agency, and the University of York, has secured funding from the SITA Trust over three years to undertake a number of conservation measures, including:

removing riverside willow and Himalayan balsam, which reduce Tansy growth

planting Tansy clumps in large gaps to increase beetle movement, as they can only walk a maximum of 200 metres

creating safe havens away from the river where beetle populations can be protected from summer floods, which cause high mortality

reducing grazing pressure on Tansy by using short-term fencing and livestock management

ensuring that during Ragwort eradication work, riverside land owners know the difference between Tansy and Ragwort.

More information:

Action for Tansy beetles Environment Agency

Lost life: England’s lost and threatened species

More species of the week

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