Have you seen any of these amazing beetles this year? If so, Buglife would like to know for their 2012 Oil Beetle Survey.
The beetle pictured above was seen a few days ago in Swallowcliffe but there are other places in Wiltshire where they can be seen.
Last year, Buglife ran their first national oil beetle survey and as a result of the sightings submitted by the public, they managed to add over a thousand new records to their database. The data allowed them to reassess the distribution of oil beetles in the UK and they are now able to show that British oil beetles appear to be in decline, although most of the losses are from the east of the country. The threat to their existence comes from the loss of flower-rich habitats and a reductions in the number of wild bees.
The connection between wild bees and oil beetles is an interesting one. The female oil beetle lays her eggs in a burrow but their extraordinary life cycle means that the newly hatched larvae quickly need to find a wild bee if they are to survive. To do this they often climb flowers stems to wait for a bee to collect pollen. At this point the larvae hitches a ride on the bee back to the colony where it feeds on the bee’s eggs, pollen and nectar.
The large beetles are easy to spot and can be found from now until June in grasslands rich in wildflowers, moors, heathlands and coastal areas.