Rare beetle habitat at Croome

 Katherine Alker with beetle habitat

Some of Britain’s rarest beetles have been discovered in 300-year-old oak trees in the parkland at Croome. Ecologists found 23 species of dead-wood loving invertebrates at Croome during a survey last year.

They include the endangered Windsor weevil (Dryophthorus corticalis) – found at just three other places in the UK, all in south east England.

The beetles, which are known as saproxylic invertebrates, live in the rotting wood in the centre of dead branches and fallen logs. A total of 17 rare red data book and 58 nationally scarce saproxylic invertebrates have now been recorded at Croome.

The discoveries mean that Croome is now the seventh best place in the country for saproxylic beetles, according to the Site Quality Index. In the Midlands the historic parkland is second only to Bredon Hill National Nature Reserve, near Evesham. 

Katherine Alker, Croome’s Outdoor Manager said: “We’re delighted that these rare beetles have been found at Croome. It shows that our rangers’ and volunteers’ work in the parkland is really starting to  pay off, and our policy of leaving deadwood habitat in the park is the right decision.

“Some of our oak trees in the park are hundreds of years old. When the National Trust took on Croome in 1996 most of the park had been ploughed up for oil seed rape and the heavy ploughs were damaging the trees’ roots.  By reverting the arable fields to permanent pasture, grazed by cattle and sheep, we’ve dramatically changed the ecosystem for the better. We leave the dead wood on the trees and the ground, creating the right habitat for these rare insects.”

A Windsor Weevil
windsor weevil
A Windsor Weevil

The Rangers and the park volunteers do a variety of jobs to help create and improve the habitat for all sorts of bugs and beetles and other wildlife. If tree work is needed e.g. to remove deadwood from a tree over a path, then the wood is left in as larger pieces as possible and left near the base of the tree from whence it came.

Where possible we leave deadwood intact in the tree as it provides a different habitat to the deadwood on the ground. Logs piles are created in the parkland which slowly rot down giving another sort of habitat.

The team have also created attractive habitat for pollinators by making log piles and stumperies in the orchard. Stumperies are created by half burying logs to create yet another type of habitat for different beetles. The team have also installed upright logs with holes drilled into them for solitary bees to nest in – these are called Bee Stumps. They are best located in sunny spots and attract bees such as yellow-faced bees and leafcutters.