What is Heather Beetle?
Heather Beetle is a widespread and common insect species found across Britain. The larvae (and to a lesser extent the adult beetles) feed on the leaves of heather plants, stripping them bare and damaging the health of the heather. In a normal year, small patches of heather will be “beetled”, but it is usually the case that the plants recover in a few months.
Periodically, heather beetle populations expand into huge outbreaks, in which millions of beetle grubs can decimate hundreds of hectares of carefully managed heather. The Trust has long been concerned about the potential for heather beetle to devastate heather moorland on a wide scale.
In many areas, the Heather Trust believes that the heather beetle Lochmaea suturalis has been instrumental in driving the change from heather to grass dominated moorland. This is a particularly significant cause of moorland decline in the wetter areas, generally on the west side of the country where there is often greater competition from grasses. Purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea is often the chief competitor.
Heather Beetle Survey 2019
The Heather Trust has run a Heather Beetle survey since 2006. We intended to end the survey after 2018 and analyse the results, but since 2019 has been a particularly bad year for beetle we are running the survey again this year to capture what could be some valuable information about extent and severity. If your moor has been affected by Heather Beetle this year, please complete our survey form now:
Natural England Evidence Review:
We periodically publish briefings on a variety of subjects which are relevant to moorland
managers. These introductory briefings are available as PDFs and are free for members and visitors to read or download.