Britain’s Most Endangered Insects

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It’s no secret, least of all on this blog, that wildflower meadows have been in rapid decline since the Second World War. At this point, wildflowers cover 97% less of Britain than they did 70 years ago and insect populations have been particularly affected by these relatively sudden changes.

An earlier post wrote about how winter can be a good a time to plan your garden for the following year, and here are a few creatures worth keeping in mind while you’re at it:

Marsh Fritillary Butterfly Euphydryas aurinia

These butterflies have declined equally as rapidly as the wildflower meadows which make up their habitat. Endangered across Europe as a whole, not just in the UK, these are one of the brightest and most vividly patterned butterflies of their type.

marsh fritillary butterfly

The Marsh Fritillary butterfly whose main food plant can be found in three types of Meadowmat
photo credit Chris Parker 

Field Scabious, one of the butterfly’s main food-plants, is found in Traditional and Cottage Garden Meadowmat as well as Woodland Shade Meadowmat.

Wart Biter Cricket Decticus verrucivorus

Unpleasantly named (after an old practice of using it to bite warts from the skin) and equally unpleasant to behold, this dark green cricket can now only be found in four locations in the South of England and is the subject of a government Biodiversity Action Plan to prevent it from exterpation.

 wart biter cricket showing head and body

The habitat of the Wart biter cricket has shrunk to just 4 areas in the South of England

Along with other insects, the Wart Biter’s diet includes knapweed, found in all but the roof-meadow varieties of Meadowmat.

flower head of knapweed

Common Knapweed, known in medieval times as Knobweed

Tansy Beetle Chrysolina graminis

So called because it lives exclusively on tansy plants (found in Birds & Bees Meadowmat) these metallic green beetles are such an attractive colour they were used by Victorians to decorate their clothes.

tansy beetle sitting on oxeye daisy

The tiny but shiny tansy beetle, a beautiful creature that is sadly in decline
Photo credit gbohne flikr

Though now only known to be found within 45km of the River Ouse, they were at one time relatively populous in Cambridge, but there were no recorded sightings in the area from 1981 until last year when one was spotted on Woodwalton Fen.

Shrill Carder Bee Bombus sylvarum

The decline of this bumblebee has been solely due to habitat loss and is now restricted to a few sites in South Wales and southern areas of England. Just like the Wart Biter, this bee is the subject of a Biodiversity Action Plan and relies on, amongst a few others, knapweed as a food plant.

How do wildflowers help wildlife

To learn more about wildflowers and ecosystems, visit our wildlife page in the wildflower information centre or download our white paper.

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Click the icon to download our information sheet about restoring the ecobalance

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