Friday, 23 September 2011

Shieldbug spotted in UK for first time

One of many animals to arrive here thanks to global warmingSeptember 2011: A shieldbug never previously seen in Britain has been found at the headquarters of Kent Wildife Trust.

Originally discovered by local photographer and keen naturalist Jason Elmore at Tyland Barn, Sandling, near Maidstone - at least 50 more specimens have since been found there.

The find has been verified by national recorder and expert, Dr Tristan Bantock, who said: ‘The horehound shieldbug is one of many species of insects that have recently arrived in Britain as a result of climatic warming.

Likes warm, dry weather‘Although very similar to the native pied shieldbug on the continent, the horehound shieldbug is found in warmer, drier situations and this will surely also be the case in Britain.'

Kent Wildife Trust's Chief Executive, John Bennett, added: ‘This is indeed an exciting discovery. It shows that by being constantly aware of what is happening around us we can learn more about our wildlife and what is happening in our world.

‘In this case the arrival of a tiny traveller may tell us about the effects of a changing climate but it has also brought an exquisite jewel to join the rich variety of wildlife that finds sanctuary in the nature park at Tyland Barn.'

The foodplant of the species is the Black Horehound, a perennial herb that supports a number of scarce insect species such as the micromoth Nemophora fasciella and the ground bug Raglius alboacuminatus. Growing up to 3ft high, it has a very strong smell, and has clusters of hairy, reddish-purple flowers that bloom from May to August.

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