Friday, 19 October 2012

Heather Beetle Survey

The Trust continues to search for reports of heather beetle outbreaks, this year.  I have asked Patrick Laurie to contact everybody who submitted a report, last year, but from whom we have not heard anything this year.  Reports of no beetle activity, especially following a positive report, are as important as reports of rampant beetle attacks.

It may be that it has been a poor year for beetles, and they would not be alone in suffering from the unique weather conditions this summer, but the more information I can collect, the more I will be able to establish the pattern of beetle activity across the country.

The current state of play: attacks have been reported from all parts of the country.  The large-scale outbreak on Exmoor is continuing, but the equally severe attack on a large estate in Caithness appears to have retreated. The same is true of the outbreak on Langholm Moor,  in Dumfriesshire, where we have been carrying out a restoration trial following beetle damage.  This supports the hypothesis that beetle attacks last for about 3 years.

There have been some large scale outbreaks in the Peak District, this year, and as a result, representatives of Natural England are visiting Langholm Moor to inspect the restoration trial and to view the beetle damage to the heather. This will help Natural England to decide how to respond to the Peak District outbreaks.

We have set up a map showing the location of the 2012 reports on the website and you will see that the level of reports received so far this year is sparse.   In spite of the possible impact of the weather, I suspect that we have not tracked all the outbreaks this year, and I would welcome support from all moor owners and managers to collect as much data as possible.

The survey form is available from the website, but I would welcome information about the presence or absence of heather beetle outbreaks in any form.

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