Reed beetle (Donacia aquatica)

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Reed beetle
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Reed beetle fact file

Reed beetle description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderColeoptera
FamilyChrysomelidae
GenusDonacia

This is a spectacularly coloured beetle, having a metallic blue sheen over its whole body, and rainbow-like stripes down each wing case. The beetle has long legs and antennae.

Size
Body length: 6 mm
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Reed beetle biology

The beetle, as its name suggests, is aquatic, with adults appearing in May and June. The larvae feed in air-filled galls on the submerged parts of plants, which grow along the edges of lakes.

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Reed beetle range

The beetle is found all over Europe, and was once widespread but local in the UK. Today, however, it is only found in Sussex, Cumbria and the Scottish Highlands. There is also a recent record from Upper Lough Erne in Northern Ireland of a beetle collected in 1992.

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Reed beetle habitat

This species is found on vegetation, preferably sedges, found at the margins of open water such as lakes and fens.

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Reed beetle status

Classified as Rare in the UK.

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Reed beetle threats

The obvious threats to this species are the loss of its wet habitat and disturbance of the marginal vegetation. However, some of its water bodies may have disappeared in the past and the enrichment of lakes by agricultural run-off is also a contributory factor.

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Reed beetle conservation

Donacia aquatica is listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP), and included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme. In at least three of the sites where it occurs, this beetle's habitat is safeguarded, as two are nature reserves and the Northern Irish site is an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI).

It may prove possible to re-introduce the beetle to sites in its former range if this proves practical. More information about the species' ecology and true status is also required. English Nature is supporting a PhD studentship under Dr Allan Stewart at Sussex University, which is due to complete in 2004.

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Find out more

The UK BAP Species Action Plan is available at:
http://www.ukbap.org.uk

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Authentication

Information supplied by English Nature.

http://www.english-nature.org.uk

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Glossary

Antennae
Pair of sensory structures on the head of invertebrates.
Larvae
Stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
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References

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Image credit

Reed beetle  
Reed beetle

© Peter Wilson / Natural Image

Natural Image
24 Newborough Rd
Wimborne
Dorset
BH21 1RD
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1202 675 916
Fax: +44 (0) 1202 848 419
bobgibbons@btinternet.com

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