New insect species found in Scotland

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AN insect species has been found for the first time in the British Isles.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) staff discovered the fly, Okeniella caudata, in the Glen Clova area of the Cairngorms.

This species has been previously associated with the high arctic and Scandinavian tundra.

Okeniella caudata joins a small group of specialised insects that survive only on Scotland’s highest mountains.

They are relics of the post-glacial past, and although they’ve just been discovered, as with other mountain species, they are vulnerable to climate change.

 

web - Okeniella_caudata large image
This species has been previously associated with the high arctic and Scandinavian tundra. Copyright SNH

 

Iain MacGowan, one of the SNH staff to discover the insect, said: “It was quite a surprise to find several specimens, both males and females, at an altitude of over 850 metres.

“These creatures and their ancestors have probably been living there since the last ice age, but have remained undiscovered partly due to the remote location of these areas and partly due to the short time which they live as adults.

“They aren’t of high risk of extinction right now, but if the climate warms these insects will be among the first to disappear.”

This fly is a distant relative of the more common yellow dung flies.

The larvae are likely general predators in the peaty mud beside upland lochs and burns in the high Cairngorms.

The adults are on the wing only for two or three weeks.

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