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.
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.
What is the Heather Trust doing to help?
We have recently completed multi-site research into post-attack management of heather so that we can improve our advice for those managing heather moorland.
In addition to this we ran a reporting service between 2006 and 2018. This was to see if we could identify any trends in beetle infestation events.
Our Members’ Briefing updates on the outcomes from these areas of work.