Ark is New Home for Endangered Beetles
A natural habitat created for rare Tansy Beetle
A natural habitat created by a Yorkshire college to protect a rare beetle has received its first new population.
The rare tansy beetle, a nationally endangered species, is restricted to a 26-mile stretch of the flood-prone banks of the River Ouse between York and Selby. York land-based college Askham Bryan has created a new habitat, known as an ark, to encourage the beetles to breed away from the flood risk. Tansy is the sole food of the beetle so a plantation of tansy was established in the ark a year ago.
A group of 25 beetles has now been relocated from the National Trust-owned Beningborough Hall near York to the college grounds, following their emergence from winter hibernation.
Dr Deirdre Rooney, lecturer in Countryside Management at Askham Bryan College, said: “The beetles have settled in well and I have already found eggs on the tansy in the ark so the initial signs are good.” She said that the first official monitoring of the ark would not take place until August, when the new generation of adult beetles emerge from pupae, with results of the breeding programme not known for a year.
If successful, the ark population will then be used to help boost populations in other areas.
The relocation of the beetles to the ark at Askham Bryan College was overseen by 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 The group has secured funding from the SITA Trust over three years to undertake a number of conservation measures, including the ark, which is the work of Countryside Management, Environmental and Land-Based Studies and Gamekeeping students at the college who began creating the new habitat around a year ago. Students are also involved in habitat conservation work at Rawcliffe Meadows on the banks of the Ouse, a natural tansy beetle habitat, to preserve not only the tansy beetle but other wildlife in the habitat.
Askham Bryan College is setting up a tansy beetle blog on its website at www.askham-bryan.ac.uk to chart the progress of the beetles in the ark.
Student Ben Thompson with one of the tansy beetles.