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The Joans Hill Farm reserve has been celebrated as a Coronation Meadow, but did you know it’s also home to royalty? The rare Noble Chafer beetle!
Find out how our work restoring orchards is helping to save this beetle from extinction.
The Wye Valley AONB Partnership are running a project aimed at reversing the decline of the Noble Chafer beetle. Despite extensive surveying on suitable habitat in summer 2022, the beetle was found at only 2 sites in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with one of them being the old orchard at Plantlife’s Joan’s Hill Farm nature reserve.
Fruit trees may live for roughly 100 years and provide decaying wood habitat during the last third of their lives. It’s important that we plant regular replacements and manage our older trees to prolong their lives, ensuring a variation in age and the continued presence of wood-decay habitats.
Last week we were delighted to receive 10 young plum and damson trees for Joan’s Hill Farm, thanks to the Wye Valley AONB Partnership. Not only that, but 2 AONB staff helped our Reserve Manager to plant them and to build substantial guards which will protect them from cattle. Although plums and damsons are some of the fastest species to produce decaying wood, it may be 60 years before they become suitable for beetle colonisation. In the meantime, we will be putting up some artificial ‘beetle boxes’, filled with wood compost, to increase the available habitat, and to act as stepping stones between the two orchard areas at Joan’s Hill Farm.
The Noble Chafer Gnorimus nobilis is a beetle about 20mm long with a metallic green body, speckled with white. The whole body displays a brilliant iridescence which can flash copper, gold and even violet. The adults emerge in June or July and feed on pollen and nectar from a variety of umbellifers, before laying their eggs in the decaying trunks of old trees. The larvae feed on the decaying wood, emerging after 2 to 3 years.
The beetle’s numbers have declined in parallel with the loss of veteran trees and traditional orchards, and it is now classed as Nationally Scarce.
Noble Chafer beetle found at Joan’s Hill Farm by Ellie Baggett – Wye Valley AONB
Only 3.2% of England’s land and sea is protected. This is why nature reserves are so important.
They are protected havens for wild plants and wildlife. Will you help keep them flourishing?
Every day, our wild plants and fungi are put at risk from planning decisions, chemical sprays and more. Find out what you can do to help protect nature.
The effort Greena Moor Nature Reserve management team put in place to save the Three-lobed Water Crowfoot.
Discover 4 new walk ideas and Scottish spring adventure inspiration from Plantlife Scotland’s Communications and Policy Officer, Erin Shott.
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