Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Biggest stick insect colony in the UK discovered in a garden in Cornwall

The colony came to light after bug-spotters responded to a call for reports of the spindly creatures.

Charity Buglife last month launched a public survey to record Cornwall's stick insect population.

The creatures are not native to these shores, but are known to thrive in the more sheltered parts of Cornwall and can be seen during the autumn when they try and find warmer spots in gardens.

The survey located new stick insect colonies in Padstow and Shortlanesend but the most exciting find was Mandy Rance-Matthews's discovery of 140 stick insects in the garden of her home in Stenalees, near St Austell.

Buglife's South West conservation officer, Andrew Whitehouse, said: "This is an incredible find.

"For every stick insect spotted there are often many more that are not seen – hidden deeper in a bush or hedge – this colony could support more than 300 stick insects."

Mrs Ranee-Matthews said: "We count them every year and are amazed to find that we have the biggest colony in the country."

Malcolm Lee, a Cornwall-based stick insect expert, said: "Our wild stick insects are originally from New Zealand and are restricted to mild areas of the county as their eggs are unable to survive hard frosts."

He said fears that the population would have been affected by the last two very cold winters had proved to be unfounded.

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