Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Heather Beetle 2018

Heather beetle damage on young heather

We’ve been receiving reports of heather beetle from supporters and contacts over the last few weeks, and it is clear that the 2018 beetle season is now in full swing. We were interested to hear how the beetles would be impacted by the recent cold spring and dry summer, and now we are finding that damage is getting underway as heather begins to flower.

The Heather Trust has been leading the field in heather beetle research for the past ten years, and our beetle survey is the only formal attempt to gather information on beetle outbreaks in Britain. We have been hearing from small lowland heaths, nature reserves, farms and grouse moors across the UK since 2007, and we have amassed lots of information in that time. Last year’s survey gave us details of damage across 16,500 acres of heather moorland, from Exmoor to Sutherland, and we are now planning to pass that information over to scientists so that it can be analysed and trends can be identified. Moorland managers need up-to-date information on beetle damage, and we hope that this information will help to shed light on where and how beetle outbreaks take place.

It is important to remember that direct action to control beetle outbreaks in progress are rarely successful and can risk causing more harm than good. The Heather Trust has long argued that moorland managers should focus on restoring damage in the aftermath of an outbreak, and we have commissioned studies to explore the efficacy of different management techniques at Langholm Moor and in the Derbyshire Peak District. We are always happy to discuss management options with our members, and we offer an advisory service to provide help and guidance for anyone who needs support after an outbreak of heather beetle.

If you have seen heather beetle damage this summer, please let us know. We have a survey form to download on our website, and we have produced some basic guides to help you identify beetle damage and differentiate it from water stress, frosting and other causes. 

If you are in any doubt, please get in touch!

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