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GWT = Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust
A very diverse county with a well-documented fauna. The county is most readily described according to the three main Natural Areas: the Cotswolds, the Severn Vale and the Forest of Dean/Wye Gorge.
The Cotswolds are most famous for their limestone grasslands and the largest concentration of habitat lies around Stroud. Harpalus puncticollis [RDB3] (Carabidae) has been found on Rodborough Common (NT) and Cryptocephalus primarius [RDB1] (Chrysomelidae) was known here in the 1940s but has been reported more recently from other areas in the south Cotswolds. Also elsewhere, Atomaria rubricollis [RDBI] (Cryptophagidae) has been taken at Stanton, in the north Cotswolds, and Meloe rugosus [RDB3] (Meloidae) at Oakridge (GWT) and Ebworth (NT) in the centre. Miarus plantarum [RDBK] (Curculionidae) occurs along waysides.
In recent years people have begun to appreciate the importance of the north Cotswolds escarpment country for old wood pasture species, associated with ash and field maple. Limoniscus violaceus [RDB1] (Elateridae) is sufficiently rare for its discovery in Dixton Wood (Private, SSSI, no access) to have been reported in the national newspapers, and other finds include Ampedus rufipennis [RDB2] (Elateridae), Gastrallus immarginatus [RDB1] (Anobiidae), and Ischnomera cinerascens [RDB2] (Oedemeridae). The old parklands are the place for oak species, such as Hypulus quercinus [RDB2] (Melandryidae) at Pinbury Park near Cirencester. The more conventional ancient woodlands have species such as Osphya bipunctata [RDB3] (Melandryidae) particularly in the Colesbourne and Chedworth areas, and Myrmechixenus vaporariorum [RDB3] (Colydiidae) in Cranham Wood. Brassey Reserve (GWT) is the only place away from Wychwood Forest (Oxfordshire) that Gynandrophthalma affinis [RDB1] (Chrysomelidae) has been found. Other interesting finds have included Lycoperdina bovistae [RDB3] (Endomychidae) at Midger Wood Reserve (GWT).
The Severn Vale still has many wetlands of interest and flood debris regularly comes up trumps. Lathrobium pallidum [RDBK] (Staphylinidae) at Ashchurch and Agriotes sordidus [RDB3] (Elateridae) at Sharpness have both been found in tidal refuse. Badister meridionalis [RDBI] (Carabidae) and Cercyon bifenestratus [RDB2] (Hydrophilidae) have been found on open but firm calcareous soils near water at Bishops Cleeve. Lower Woods Reserve (GWT) is an important area of ancient woodlands in a matrix of old common pastures and has Cercyon alpinus [RDBK] (Hydrophilidae). The Severn Hams with their old willow pollards and relict wetlands have Manda mandibularis (Staphylinidae) [RDB1], Procraerus tibialis [RDB3] (Elateridae) and Malthodes crassicornis [RDB3] (Cantharidae) and Selatosomus nigricornis [RDB3] (Elateridae) can still be found locally.
The value of this area for wood decay species has really only recently been demonstrated. Forthampton Oaks (Private, no access), near Tewkesbury, has Ampedus cardinalis [RDB2], Procraerus tibialis [RDB3] (Elateridae), Globicornis rufitarsis [RDB1] and Trinodes hirtus [RDB3] (Dermestidae). Whitcliff Park, Berkeley (Private) has a similar fauna. Although only relatively recently discovered in the county Prionychus melanarius [RDB2] (Tenebrionidae) has proven to be widely scattered here, occurring at both the above sites as well as the Lower Apperley/Norton area and extending into the north Cotswolds. One further remarkable find – Scraptia fuscula [RDB1] (Scraptiidae) – has come from a further site on the edge of Gloucester and which is scheduled for housing development. Grammoptera ustulata [RDB3] and Mesosa nebulosa [RDB3] (Cerambycidae) are also scattered across the Vale, both known from the Highnam Woods Reserve (RSPB) area in the west across to Coombe Hill Canal Reserve (GWT) and Haresfield in the east.
The Forest of Dean and the Wye Gorge are primarily known for their woodland and wood pasture species. Bibloporus minutus [RDB3] (Pselaphidae) at Cannop (FC), and Ampedus cinnabarinus [RDB3] (Elateridae) very widely. The true Forest is not the focus of interest however, rather the margins. Welshbury Wood (FC), on the east side of the Forest, has produced both Dromius quadrisignatus [RDB1] (Carabidae) and Ernoporus tiliae [RDB1] (Scolytidae) in recent years. Lydney Deer Park (Private, no access) has some of the best old growth stands in the area and has Aeletes atomarius [RDB3] (Histeridae). Gnorimus nobilis [RDB2] (Scarabaeidae) has been found in the orchard country around the Forest margins at Newnham and Longhope.
The Wye Gorge is nationally famous for its rare insects and amongst the beetles are Macronychus quadrituberculatus [RDB2] (Elmidae) from The Slaughter, Platycis cosnardi [RDB1] (Lycidae) was originally added to the British list from near Staunton, and Oedemera virescens [RDB2] (Oedemeridae) has only recently been rediscovered, also near Staunton.
County recorder: Keith Alexander, 59 Sweetbrier Lane, Heavitree, Exeter, Devon EX1 3AQ..
ALEXANDER, K.N.A. 1988. A relict old forest beetle fauna from Lydney Deer Park, Glos. Entomologist's Rec. J. Var. 100:187.
ATTY, D.B. 1983. Coleoptera of Gloucestershire. Cheltenham: privately published.
WHITEHEAD, P.F. 1989. Beetles from unvegetated wet sediments at Bishop’s Cleeve, Gloucestershire. Entomologist’s Mon. Mag. 125: 150.