Natural History Museum urges public to help search for minibeasts in vital Bugs Count bid

By Culture24 Staff | 08 June 2011
A photo of a woman holding a slug in her hand
Naomi Wilkinson, of the BBC's Live 'n' Deadly wildlife show, meets a Leopard Slug to launch the Bugs Count campaign© Natural History Museum
From the stone-shuffling Devil’s Coach Horse Beetle and the blotchy Leopard Slug to the boisterous bumblebee and the 2-Spot Ladybird, beautiful bugs are as vital a part of the English summer as sunrays and cider.

The Natural History Museum has launched a campaign to preserve our marauding minibeasts, joining organisations across the country for a Bugs Count encouraging the public to help monitor and record six specimens.

People can hunt for bugs in soil and short grass, plants and shrubs, paving slabs and buildings, filling out a survey pack with their findings for the Open Air Laboratories Scheme. Be warned, though – you could be in for a few surprises.

“If you get outside with a net, you never know what you might discover,” says Head Curator of Beetles Max Barclay, reporting on an early breakthrough.

“The scarlet malachite beetle is one of the UK’s rarest insects and has not been recorded in Surrey for more than 50 years.”

“Finding another population of the beetle in a new location shows us that pockets of suitable habitat still exist in the landscape,” adds Duncan Sivell, a Biodiversity Officer for the scheme. “It gives us hope that other colonies may have survived."

These tiny visitors play a crucial role in our ecosystems, pollinating plants, recycling nutrients by breaking down waste, controlling pests and providing food for birds and animals.

“We want everyone to get outside and discover the nature on their doorstep,” says the museum’s Dr John Tweddle. “With our towns and cities expanding, it’s vital we get a better understanding of how our wildlife is being affected by these changes.”

Back of the net: Six of the best bugs you might find...

A photo of a bumblebee on a lilac flower
A Tree Bumblebee
A photo of a green insect on a green plant
A Green Shieldbug
A photo of an orange, black and yellow butterfly on a green plant
A small Tortoise Butterfly
A photo of a black beetle on brown soil
A Devil's Coach Horse Beetle
A 2-Spot Ladybird
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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