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Will the black beetles of 2018 be back in Suffolk this summer?

PUBLISHED: 07:30 18 June 2019

Hundreds of tiny balck beetles - attracted to yellow - have been spotted at locations across Suffolk and Essex
Picture: ARCHANT

Hundreds of tiny balck beetles - attracted to yellow - have been spotted at locations across Suffolk and Essex Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

In June 2018 black beetles swarmed in Suffolk, leaving residents covered in bugs - will they return to East Anglia in 2019?

The bright green wig worn by one Race For Life fundraiser proved highly attractive to the beetles Picture: STEPHEN WALLERThe bright green wig worn by one Race For Life fundraiser proved highly attractive to the beetles Picture: STEPHEN WALLER

At the start of the summer in the UK last year, pollen beetles, which arrived in larger numbers than usual due to the hot weather, formed large clouds and were attracted to bright clothing.

While the beetles were prolific in 2018 it is unlikely they will appear in such numbers with the cooler forecast for July and August this year - which means another insect may benefit from a different climate.

Steve Aylward, head of property at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, says Suffolk's ecology is key to maintaining a healthy insect population, which in turn feeds an entire wildlife food chain.

He said: "Whether it's in gardens or farms you are going to want as many wild flowers as possible.

"If we're not careful it can become a bit of a downward spiral - if the insect population drops, the animals they feed will go into decline.

"If we want to carry on calling ourselves the greenest county then why not plant more wild flowers?"

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Described by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) as a nuisance but not harmful, the pollen beetles were a glut in the food chain for birds and mammals that feed on insects.

Other bugs have caused concern and alarm in recent years - in 2016 and 2018 a sudden rise in harlequin ladybirds sparked panic after reports some of them were capable of carrying sexually transmitted diseases.

Potentially poisonous brown-tail moth caterpillars were spotted in Cambridgeshire in June this year, with some residents saying they were left with rashes or asthma attacks after coming into contact with them.

Mr Aylward added: "It's nearly impossible to predict all the insects we might see every year, but there are some that we can expect.

"It's not uncommon to see a large number of ladybirds arriving from the continent.

"Some species of butterflies might make the journey here as well, like the painted lady.

"Occasionally you will see long-tailed blue butterflies, they have turned up all over the coast before but they don't breed here, they're not a native species."

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