By Sarah Bird, Project Officer, Species on the Edge – North Scotland Coast
The Leaf Beetle Chrysolina intermedia is very rare in the UK. It is one of the priority species for the new Species on the Edge project that I am working on. It is found in Shetland and Orkney but it could be living on the north Scotland coast too. So, I need your help to look for it in Caithness and Sutherland.
(This beetle is sometimes called the Plantain Leaf beetle, but there are other species that this common name is used for, so its best to stick to the scientific name to be sure which beetle we mean).
What to look for
The beetle is easy to recognise as there aren’t any similar species found in north Scotland. It’s about 1 cm long (7-11mm) and black with red margins along the outer edge of each wing case. There are obvious dimples on the wing cases too.
Where to look
These beetles are usually found in cliff-top grasslands and in saltmarshes. Looking for their food plants is a good way to search for them. Chrysolina intermedia feeds on species of plantain and toadflax. In Orkney this beetle has been found with Sea Plantain, and Ivy leaved Toadflax is another possible foodplant.
When to look
The beetles can be seen at any time of year but are most likely to be spotted between January and September. Beetles hide in the base of plants over winter and come out to feed in warm spring weather. Adult beetles lay eggs on food plants between March and June.
These beetles are classed as Nationally Rare within the UK, and Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Habitat loss and over-grazing are thought to be the main reasons for their decline. Populations once present at Loch Etive in Argyll have not been recorded for a number of years.
If you see a beetle like this please take a photo and send the details to us using the recording form here, or post your photo on our Facebook group. Good luck!
There are about 280 different species of leaf beetle found in the UK, and many thousands across the world. Have a look here to see some of the other UK species. Some are very beautiful.