Scientists celebrate rediscovery of insect that went missing 30 years ago

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A SPECIES of insect once thought to be extinct has been rediscovered in Scotland 30 years after its last sighting

The cow wheat shieldbug in over 30 years, before now the last time that this type of shieldbug was spotted was at Loch Rannoch in 1989.

The bug was discovered by a field worker from from the Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms partnership project discovered one of the insects in Strathspey.

Rare cow wheat shieldbug - Animal News Scotland
Rare cow wheat shieldbug was discovered for the first time in over 30 years.

The two latest sightings of the insect have been in Strathspey, with the sighting before now occuring in the year 1989 in Argyll and Bute.

The insects eat cow wheat. Although this is a common plant in Scotland, the bug needs to grow in a sheltered warm micro-climate.

The most common place to find these insects is in woodlands with diverse structures.

The RSPB says:”This rare insect is considered to be nationally scarce across the UK, with worrying declines in the south-east of England in recent years.”

“It is believed that a decline in such woodlands is one of the reasons why the bug has fared badly over recent decades.”

The cow wheat shieldbug is described as having a black body and two distinctive white spots on its back.

Genevieve Tompkins, who found the bug said:”One of the great things about this project is that, while looking for the focus species, our volunteers come across other rare insects too.

“Insects are hugely under-recorded, but give us vital clues as to the health of our habitats.

“It is sad that this bug has suffered from a decline in traditional woodland management.

“However, there is hope, with diverse woodlands once more becoming a key feature of the Cairngorms National Park.”

People are being asked to record any sightings of the cow wheat shieldbug and any other rare insects on the iRecord website.