So who has spotted one of these impressively large beetles around the village? While are 5 species of black oil beetle in Britain all the ones we've spotted so far are the Black Oil Beetle, has anyone seen Violet or Rugged Oil Beetles that might occur around here? The particularly favour south-facing slopes with well drained soils. For those interested Buglife have a fantastic ID guide on their website to separate the species.
It's really exciting that we have oil beetles in the village as they are under threat, being in decline nationally due to changes in countryside management. Oil beetles have a fascinating life cycle which is closely intertwined with another of our local residents; the solitary mining bees. Juvenile oil beetles emerge in spring and wait on flowers for the mining bees and then hitch a lift to their nests where they eat the food the bees have collected for their own young. The beetles remain in the bee burrows until the emerge as adults the following year.
Wildflower-rich site with a succession of nectar sources through the spring and summer are key to maintaining solitary bee and oil beetle populations. Carbon Neutral Aldbourne's Blue Heart campaign to cease mowing some of our grassy spaces until October to allow wildflowers to grow should benefit both our solitary bees and oil beetles.