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Leicestershire & Rutland

LRWT = Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust

There are no famous honeypot beetle sites in Leicestershire and Rutland. Consequently, the two counties are rarely visited by coleopterists unless they have some special connection with the area. Nevertheless, treasures can be discovered both in the wider countryside, which is mostly farmland, and in urban and post-industrial areas.

Two good medieval deer parks still survive in the area and they both have a rich saproxylic fauna. Donington Park (private, no access; Lott, 1995b) is the best site for rarities. It has Cryptocephalus querceti [RDB2] (Chrysomelidae), Microscydmus puncticollis [RDB2] (Scydmaenidae) and Plectophloeus nitidus [RDB2] (Staphylinidae). The last species has also been found at Bradgate Park (public access, but collecting rigorously controlled). Ischnomera cinerascens [RDB2] (Oedemeridae) has been recorded at Rutland's largest ancient woodland, Burley Wood (private, no access). The only British record of Phloeopora concolor [RDB I] (Staphylinidae) comes from Gopsall Park (private, no access) (Donisthorpe, 1941), but it is unlikely to occur there now, due to the almost complete removal of old trees and dead wood from the old park. Away from sites that are recognised for their conservation value, mature trees in hedgerows can also be very productive for saproxylic species. Batrisodes adnexus [RDB1] (Staphylinidae) has been found in a dead standing ash tree at Ashby Folville while Oligella intermedia [RDBK] (Ptiliidae) was extracted from a willow at Fosse Park, Sharnford.

Leicestershire and Rutland have probably never been blessed with extensive fenland, at least not in historical times. However, the river valleys of the Trent, Soar, Wreake and Welland support a variety of interesting wetland beetle communities. Wet grassland species such as Selatosomus nigricornis [RDB3] (Elateridae) occur at Loughborough Big Meadow (LRWT), an old Lammas hay meadow by the Soar. Seaton Meadow (Plantlife) is a promising new reserve in the Welland valley. Well established temporary pools with organic substrates in old, abandoned sections of river course are particularly productive. Calodera uliginosa [RDBK] (Staphylinidae) and Calodera rufescens [RDBK] (Staphylinidae) have been found in such habitats at Loughborough Big Meadow (part LRWT), while Oxypoda nigrocincta [RDB I] (Staphylinidae) has occurred at Narborough Bog (LRWT). Many national scarce species occur in vast numbers in similar habitats at Saddingtion Reservoir (British Waterways), where Bagous lutosus [RDB1] (Curculionidae) was recorded in 1949. Cercyon bifenestratus [RDB3] (Hydrophilidae) and Carpelimus obesus [RDB3] (Staphylinidae) appear occasionally on the margins of the River Soar, while Philhygra parca (= Atheta (Philhygra) nannion) [RDB3] (Staphylinidae) and Lathrobium pallidum [RDB3] (Staphylinidae) can turn up in flood refuse. Hydrochus elongatus [RDB3] (Hydrophilidae) and Dryops similaris [RDB3] (Dryopidae) are characteristic of shallow open water sites and have been recorded at Kilby Pit (private, no access). Helophorus dorsalis [RDB3] (Hydrophilidae) is characteristic of water filled ruts in damp clay woodlands, but has been recorded from several sites in Leicestershire including an orange plastic bowl on a ride in Owston Wood (Forestry Commission).

Disused limestone quarries are good hunting grounds for species with early succesional habitats. Harpalus obscurus [RDB1] (Carabidae) occurs at Geeston Quarry (private, no access), and there is an old record from elsewhere, so it could turn up anywhere on the limestone. Leiodes macropus [RDB3] (Leiodidae) has been pitfall-trapped at North Luffenham Quarry (private, no access). Ocyusa nitidiventris [RDBK] (Staphylinidae) occurs at Big Pits, Clipsham (private, no access) and has also been found on a post-industrial site in Leicester and a disused open-cast coal mine in Moira, NW Leicestershire. Aleochara inconspicua [RDB2] (Staphylinidae), known as a parasite of the wheat bulb fly, has been pitfall-trapped in numbers at Stonesby Quarry (LRWT). Ketton Quarry (LRWT) is a promising site with easy access arrangements.

Although most of Leicestershire and Rutland is lowland in character, an island of semi-upland landscape occurs on Precambrian siliceous rocks in Charnwood Forest. Ilyobates nigricollis [RDB3] (Staphylinidae) occurs at Charnwood Lodge Nature Reserve (LRWT). Buddon Wood (private, no access) is an ancient sessile oakwood, where Francis Plant found Tropideres sepicola [RDB2] (Anthribidae) new to Britain in 1856. Later it achieved fame for its wood ant associates and was used by Donisthorpe in his studies on the guests of British ants. Sadly, it was clear-felled in the war and then extensively quarried from the 1970s, but still retains several interesting species. 

County recorder: Derek Lott, Environmental Resources Centre, Holly Hayes, 216 Birstall Rd, Birstall, Leicester LE4 4DG

Further Reading

LOTT, D.A. 1995a. Leicestershire Red Data Books. Beetles. Leicestershire Museums Service, Leicester, 120pp.

1995b. The dead-wood beetles of Donington Park, Leicestershire. Coleopterist 4: 47-54.

& DAWS, J. 1995. Beetles from pitfall traps in Leicestershire grasslands. Coleopterist 4: 73-77.