A Trust first for rare beetle in Rowsley

Speckled longhorn beetle by Kieron Huston

A rare species of longhorn beetle has been discovered at Rowsley, in the first record of the species for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

The Speckled longhorn (Pachytodes cerambyciformis) was spotted by the Trust’s White Peak Regional Manager Kieron Huston at Rowsley Sidings near Chatsworth. The species is very rarely recorded in Derbyshire; in fact, there are just a couple of previous records listed on the National Biodoversity Network for the Moss Valley area up towards Sheffield.

It was also a first for insect enthusiast Kieron Huston. He said “It is the first time I've recorded it in Derbyshire and it is the first record for DWT's database. I was so excited I missed the first 10 minutes of an England match, but it was definitely worth it!”

Longhorn beetles get their name from the long antennae which they use to seek out nesting sites and mates. Beetles like the longhorn play an important role in woodland ecology as they eat decaying wood, recycling the nutrients to the living ecosystem. They also pollinate woodland flowers and are an essential food source for many other animals.

The Speckled Longhorn is normally more likely to be found in the west of Britain, especially Wales and some southern areas, with a more scattered distribution in northern England, probably due to climactic factors. It is associated with the exposed roots of fallen trees including willow and birch trees. This kind of microhabitat is often quite scarce, however in recent years flooding at Rowsley has killed off quite a lot of birch trees. As these trees fall their root plates are often ripped up and then remain exposed, which Kieron thinks may well be creating ideal conditions for the beetle larvae.

Cow parsley - umbellifer - by Philip Precey

Cow parsley - umbellifer - by Philip Precey

Species recording is a vital part of how Derbyshire Wildlife Trust monitors wildlife increase or declines. Your sightings can help them to build valuable county records, so whatever you are lucky enough to see on your walks or even in your garden let them know! www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/wildlife/record-sighting