The last week has been a blur of grouse, but it is worth noting that signs of heather beetle have been particularly prominent on some of the moors I’ve walked in the past few days
The wet, mild winter and long spring raised concerns that heather beetle might be on the loose in 2014 after a very quiet year last year, and this has been borne out by a number of extensive outbreaks across the country, most dramatically in Northumberland. Some of the ground I’ve seen has been totally stripped, and the characteristic red tinge runs far off into the distant horizon when everything should really be purple and jolly.
The Heather Trust is still running our heather beetle studies in the Peak District and at Langholm, and the survey continues with a number of new reports from Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. Notably, there has been a bad outbreak on some lowland heath in Dorset where there is a strong breeding population of nightjars, and there is concern that the damage has been so bad that the nature of the undergrowth will alter without management. Small lowland heaths are far from my understanding of heather moorland, but they are unquestionably valuable habitats and are seriously under threat, less from beetle itself but more from inaction after the beetle has departed.
If you see any sign of beetle damage, please let the Trust know –