Friday, 28 July 2006

Boy (8) makes beetle discovery in Down

Linda McKee

An eight-year-old boy has managed to confound the scientists after discovering a species of beetle never seen before in Ireland.
The child found the beetle during an Insect Walk at Castlewellan Country Park in Co Down.
And according to the scientists who identified the insect for him, we can expect to see more and more new species of insect making their way across from mainland Britain, thanks to increasing trade and global warming.
Scientist Dr Roy Anderson was teaching a group of children about the world of minibeasts during National Insect Week, which ran last month.
But halfway through the walk, an eight-year-old boy handed him a strange-looking beetle.
"This young lad came up to me with a beetle I couldn't identify immediately," Dr Anderson said.
"It was too large to be the species of woodland ground beetle most common to Ireland. The insect was shiny dark and the thorax had a clear reddish margin."
The beetle was identified as Leistus rufomarginatus (Duftschmid), a species previously unrecorded in Ireland. Although first recorded in England in 1942, the beetle was only found in Scotland in 1994 and then the Isle of Man in 1997.
"Given the way these beetles are spreading it isn't too surprising that they've now arrived in Ireland. Castlewellan is less than 10 miles from the coast, which in turn is just 30 miles from the Isle of Man," Dr Anderson said.
"In the last thirty years at least three other insects from Scotland or North Western England have appeared in Ireland. We suspect this number will increase as global trade and even global warming continues to make itself felt."
Jim Hardie, president of the Royal Entomological Society, which organised National Insect Week, said: "This incident just goes to show how accessible insects are, how little we often know and how rewarding links between amateur and professional entomologists can be."
Archie Murchie of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, who organised the walk, said insects are fascinating and important creatures.

The beetle has been identified but the boy hasn't!