Nature reserve heralds insect finds

THREE insects never before seen in Britain have been discovered during survey work at the Minsmere RSPB reserve.One, a moth normally found around the Mediterranean, has been named the Minsmere Crimson Underwing.

THREE insects never before seen in Britain have been discovered during survey work at the Minsmere RSPB reserve.

One, a moth normally found around the Mediterranean, has been named the Minsmere Crimson Underwing.

The other two are flies. One is a non-biting midge, Fleuria lacustris, usually seen in central and eastern Europe, and the other a shore-fly, thought to be Hyadina minima, which has only been spotted before around Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia.

During a survey of the Minsmere Scrape in Autumn of last year, freelance entomologist David Gibbs discovered an incredible 416 species of invertebrates. A large proportion of these, 60 species in total, were species that were classified as rare or scarce.

Mr Gibbs described the results of his survey as "mind-boggling".

"This is one of the best invertebrate sites in the country, and the best wetland site that I've ever surveyed, by a long way," he said.

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The biggest surprise of this survey was the discovery of two flies that have never been seen in Britain before. Although they have probably always been there, but have simply been overlooked by previous naturalists.

RSPB invertebrate ecologist Mark Telfer said: "Few visitors to Minsmere will be aware of their presence, but these invertebrates are all playing their part in the web of life.

"They draw in hundreds of hungry birds, culminating in the bird spectacle that draws so many birdwatchers. These discoveries tell us what a special place the Scrape is - something the birds have known all along."

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