The Tansy beetle has been called “The Jewel Of York” for its beautiful, iridescent green colour. Once plentiful around the UK, it is now restricted to the banks of the River Ouse in North Yorkshire and a smaller isolated population in Cambridgeshire.
The Tansy beetle is classed as endangered across its worldwide range and is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) priority species.
This beetle is in decline due to pressures from agricultural grazing land and flooding. It is completely reliant on the Tansy plant, for both its food and sites to lay its eggs. The Tansy beetle cannot fly so movement between plants can be a perilous journey.
The Tansy Beetle Action Group (TBAG), set up in 2008 and working with Buglife, has identified species specific requirements for saving the Tansy beetle and is working to manage stable habitat sites. The aim is to work alongside local authorities, scientists and wildlife charities to support local populations. But the overall strategy is to encourage a more widespread recovery of this species.
The Deep, working as part of The Tansy Beetle Action Group, has launched a company initative to grow Tansy plants to help protect this stunning beetle. Members of the team have been out collecting Tansy seeds to plant and grow on into 'plugs' both at the aquarium and within staff homes. These 'plugs', when large enough, will then be planted out into protected sites along the banks of the River Ouse to widen the beetles range, with an aim to increase populations. 28 staff members across a variety of departments have all pledged a window sill in their home to grow these crucial plants, creating a company-wide conservation effort for the Tansy beetle. We have also been joined by the Environment Agency and Ings Primary School in Hull, which has greatly increased the number of plants we are able to grow.
Total population surveys are carried out by 30 volunteers at the end of each summer across 90km of riverbank along the Ouse around York. We are thrilled to report they have grown again! 2016 revealed as estimated 40,000 beetles, which is a huge leap from the 24,000 recorded in 2015. Geoff Oxford, who co-ordinates the annual surveys on behalf of the Tansy Beetle Action Group (TBAG), said “Since the comprehensive surveys of the beetle on the Yorkshire Ouse began in 2009, this is by far the best year ever. Numbers are over 60% higher than in 2015, which was itself a record-breaking year."
We are delighted to be involved with this programme for native species conservation and you can help too!
There are lots of ways for people to get involved, from surveying the riverbanks, mapping the locations of tansy plant clumps and even growing tansy plants in your back garden, ready to be planted out onto the riverbanks. Or why not adopt a Tansy beetle? – For more information or to get involved visit the Tansy Beetle Hub.