RSPB New project launched to save Scotland's rarest insects


A new project is being launched in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park to save six of Scotland's rarest invertebrates.

Shining Guest Ant (Formicoxenus nitidulus), Dark-bordered Beauty, Small Scabious Mining-bee (Andrena marginata), Northern Silver-stiletto fly (Spiriverpa lunulata), Pine Hoverfly (Blera fallax) and Kentish Glory have all been identified as in need of urgent conservation action, with many of them having their last strongholds within the national park.

Kentish Glory
The beautiful Kentish Glory is perhaps Scotland's most iconic moth (Photo: Paul Cools)

RSPB Scotland, the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Buglife, Butterfly Conservation and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) will work in partnership on the Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms project over the next three years to improve the conservation fortunes of these range-restricted and hard-to-find insects.

Funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the initiative will involve recruiting volunteers to help with surveying work that will establish the size and distribution of the species' populations, as well as implementing practical management on the ground to help them thrive.

While the Cairngorms National Park is famous for wildlife such as Capercaillie, Scottish Wildcat and Red Squirrel, some of the smaller and lesser-known species can be even more fascinating. For example, Shining Guest Ants do not create their own nests, instead simply moving in to those of Wood Ants. The 'squatters' can be easily identified by their extremely shiny coat of armour.

A Shining Guest Ant (right) alongside the much larger Wood Ant (Photo: Stewart Taylor)

Small Scabious Mining-bees can only be found in the Cairngorms, and feed exclusively on Devil's-bit Scabious, a plant named after its stubby roots which, according to folklore, had been bitten off by the devil.

Despite its name, Kentish Glory is only found in the north-east of Scotland. Notoriously difficult to survey due to its fast flight action, the team will be trialling a pheromone technique, which involves coating rubber stoppers with the scent of female moths and hanging from trees in an attempt to lure in the males and consequently make them easier to count.

Gabrielle Flinn, Projects Officer for the Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms project, said: "The Cairngorms National Park is well known for its iconic species such as Capercaillie and wildcat, but it's also the last refuge for some of Scotland's rarest insects. For the next three years, the project will be working to conserve some of these rare species spread across the parks key habitats, from aspen woodland to flower rich grasslands. We'll be relying on people in and around the park to lend a hand, so if you're passionate about the smaller things in life we'd love to hear from you."

Related pages

Highland Highland

Related articles

RSPB Little Tern eggs stolen in Suffolk RSPB Little Tern eggs stolen in Suffolk
The RSPB and Suffolk police are appealing for information after 10 Little Tern eggs were illegally taken from nests at a colony at Kessingland. read on read on
RSPB 'Wigwam' nestboxes help a scarce bird to breed in South Yorkshire RSPB 'Wigwam' nestboxes help a scarce bird to breed in South Yorkshire
Bearded Tits are breeding for the first time at the RSPB's Old Moor reserve, having been provided with specially designed nestboxes. read on read on
RSPB Spoonbills breed in Yorkshire for the first time RSPB Spoonbills breed in Yorkshire for the first time
One of Britain’s rarest breeding birds, Spoonbill, has continued to expand its breeding range after a pair nested for the first time in West Yorkshire at Fairburn Ings RSPB. read on read on
RSPB Seabird danger from overfishing in post-Brexit seas RSPB Seabird danger from overfishing in post-Brexit seas
New RSPB research shows that British seabird populations could be adversely affected by the amount of sand-eels caught in the North Sea by industrial fisheries. read on read on
RSPB Peregrine chicks saved after parents found illegally killed RSPB Peregrine chicks saved after parents found illegally killed
Three Peregrine Falcon chicks have found new foster homes after their parents were found dead. read on read on

The information in this article was believed correct at the time of writing. BirdGuides accepts no responsibility for errors, or for any consequences of acting on information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily shared by BirdGuides Ltd.

hide section Reader comments (0)

No comments so far.

Back to top Back to top

Latest edition Latest edition
Search articles Search articles
All articles All articles
Popular articles Popular articles
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Terms of Sale | Cookie Policy | About us | Advertise | Contact us
BirdGuides, Warners Group Publications PLC, The Chocolate Factory, 5 Clarendon Road, London N22 6XJ
© 2017 BirdGuides and Warners Group Publications plc. All Rights Reserved. Company Registered in England no. 2572212 | VAT registration No. GB 638 3492 15
Sales: or tel. 0800 919391 · International Sales: +44 (0)1778 391180 · Office: or tel. 020 8826 0934

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites