The Kiss Me Slow Beetle

A RARE beetle has been discovered living in Herefordshire. The mistletoe weevil, or Ixapion variegatum, has been found thriving in a National Trust orchard in Brockhampton, near Bromyard.

The small tan-coloured insect, which measures just three millimetres, has never been recorded before in Britain, but it is known to exist in other parts of Europe, especially France. "It has turned up in an area which remains a stronghold for mistletoe, which suggests the weevil is an overlooked native member of British fauna rather than a recent arrival," said Les Rogers, manager of the Brockhampton estate. "Our discovery highlights the wildlife value of old orchards, especially in Herefordshire. This will reinforce our plans to enhance the survival of these precious habitats".

The National Trust's biological survey team, which monitors wildlife on Trust land, found the beetle while looking for other creatures known to live in the mistletoe.

"This is a really exciting find because it is the first time anyone from the Trust's biological survey team has discovered a creature which has never before been recorded in Britain" said Andy Foster, who discovered the weevil.

He and fellow biologist professor Mike Morris now plan to write a scientific paper on the find.

If thatís not a challenge to Worcestershireís biological recorders, we donít know what is! In Herefordshire - Damn it! - and only just across the border. They must be here!

References

BENSE U 1995 Longhorn beetles. Illustrated key to the Cerambycidae and Vesperidae of Europe. Margraf Verlag. (bilingual in English and German).
DOLLING, WR. 1991. The Hemiptera. Natural History Museum Publications, OUP.
HOLLIER, J. & BRIGGS J 1999. The specialist Hemiptera associated with mistletoe. Br. J Ent. Nat. Hist. vol 12, 237-239.
PRICE, JM. 1987 Viscum album (Mistletoe)in Warwickshire. Distribution and some insect associations. Proc. Birmingham Nat Hist Soc. vol. 25, 207-211.

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