Mark Avery

Hunt on for elusive Potters Bar beetle

Friday, April 30, 2010
5.34 PM

NEARLY 100 years after it was first found in Potters Bar, a leading wildlife expert has urged naturalists to resume the hunt for one of Britain’s most elusive insects.

Writing on his blog this week, Mark Avery recounted the story of the discovery of Aglyptinus agathidioides, a type of beetle, in a moorhen’s nest in the town on April 14, 1912.

A pair of the invertebrates, one male and one female, were found by a naturalist called E C Bedwell.

However, since that day 98 years ago, the insect has never been seen.

Mr Avery, who is the conservation director at the RSPB, said: “Others have looked for it, in moorhen and mute swan nests, in Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire but without success.

“No-one, other than Mr Bedwell, has ever knowingly seen this species in the wild.”

Mr Avery said the discovery of the arthropod in itself had been very strange.

“The genus Aglyptinus is of Central American provenance,” he said.

“That’s where all the other Aglyptinus species live – and there are quite a lot of them.

“So it’s puzzling that only on one day did this species burst into our consciousness and then depart never to be seen again!”

However, he admitted the insect was not much to look at.

“I have examined the type specimen of this beetle in a drawer of the Natural History Museum and it’s not the most impressive of specimens.

“It is so small that one could easily brush it aside without realising it was a living thing.”

But he urged naturalists to continue the search for this most rarest of insects.

He said: “I’d love it if someone found some more of this cryptic beetle.

“Good luck in your search!”