Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Search for Britain’s only cicada finds rare wildlife, but no cicada

Close, but no Cicada
June 2013. Rare species of moth, bat and plant were discovered in the New Forest National Park during a 24-hour census of wildlife. Enthusiasts young and old were joined by a host of experts over the weekend in this year's BioBlitz, organised by the New Forest National Park Authority.

500 species recorded
There were more than 1,200 finds with about 500 different species surveyed including the rare and aptly named moth Scarce Merveille du Jour, and the Daubenton's bat which was recorded for the first time at Roydon Woods Nature Reserve near Brockenhurst. 

No Cicada
But there were no sign of the elusive New Forest cicada despite help from a new smartphone app developed by scientists at the University of Southampton. The rare singing insect is the UK's only native cicada and hasn't been seen since 1993, although some evidence of its presence was found in 2000. The 'Cicada Hunt' app was launched at the BioBlitz and can pick up the insect's distinctive mating calls which it sings from May to July. More than 200 people have already downloaded the free software since it was released on 3 June, but so far its songs haven't been heard.

Next month is the best time to search
Dr Alex Rogers, from the University's Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, said: ‘The next month or so is the ideal time to search for the New Forest cicada. It likes warm, still, sunny weather, and is most likely to be found in sunny clearings, where it will sing for a few hours either side of midday.'

The cicada app is available now for both iPhone and Android smartphones on the iTunes and Google Play app stores. Search for ‘Cicada Hunt'. To find out more about the New Forest Cicada Project go to www.newforestcicada.info

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