Just worth posting as a post script. that I took my first photograph of a heather beetle while looking at some cutting work on Langholm Moor yesterday. The little blighter was skipping cheerily along a clump of star moss, and I managed to gather him up just long enough for a photo. Quite a mild, innocuous looking little creature to have caused damage measured in the thousands of both acres and pounds.
The fact that he was there doesn’t necessarily mean that Langholm is in for another beetle outbreak. Heather beetles can be found on every area of moorland in Britain, and the problems only arise when they have massive population explosions. Fingers crossed that he was a one-off, although I must admit that before I could bring his ambitions to an end, I dropped him and he made a speedy getaway in the ensuing confusion.