Rare bug spotted in Scotland for first time in over 30 years

Cow wheat shieldbug, which has two distinctive white spots, was seen in woodland in the Scottish Highlands.

Rare bug spotted in Scotland for first time in over 30 years E-mail

A rare bug has been spotted in Scotland for the first time in more than 30 years.

The cow wheat shieldbug was seen in woodland in Strathspey, in the Scottish Highlands – only the eighth time in history it has been sighted in Scotland and the first since 1989.

The little black bug, which has two distinctive white spots, is considered nationally scarce across the UK, with worrying declines in recent years.

The last time the rare bug was spotted was 32 years ago at Loch Rannoch, while other sightings were made in Perthshire in 1879 and Argyll and Bute in 1890.

It relies on cow wheat for food, which is common in Scotland, but the bug needs it to grow in a sheltered, warm micro-climate, usually on sunny rides and glades in woodlands.

These warm micro-climates rely on traditionally managed woodlands with diverse structures, creating sheltered open areas.

It is believed that a decline in such woodlands is one of the reasons why the bug has fared badly over recent decades.

Genevieve Tompkins, a field worker from the Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms partnership project, discovered the bug.

She said: “One of the great things about this project is that, while looking for the focus species, our volunteers come across other rare insects too.

“Insects are hugely under-recorded, but give us vital clues as to the health of our habitats.

“It is sad that this bug has suffered from a decline in traditional woodland management.

“However, there is hope, with diverse woodlands once more becoming a key feature of the Cairngorms National Park.

“It would be brilliant if more people could look out for the bug, submitting their records through the iRecord website.”