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Another first for much loved Nottinghamshire nature reserve

Andromeda Lacebug

Despite nearly 3,000 species of wildlife having been recorded at Attenborough Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Nottingham in the last 50 years, new species are being found all the time. The latest find, the Andromeda lace bug (Stephanitis takeyai), was discovered over the Bank Holiday weekend and is a species never before seen in the East Midlands. It was found in the Church Pond Meadow near the reserve’s busy Nature Centre.

Originally from Japan, they first appeared in the UK as recently as 1998 – presumably as a result of trade in exotic plants. They feed exclusively on Pieris, Rhodedendron and Azaeleas.

While there are around 2,000 known species of lace bug in world, only 14 species have been recorded in the UK – 10 of which have now been spotted in Nottinghamshire. The recent discovery is made extra special by the fact that there are fewer than 20 records in the UK – most are from the southern half of Britain.

The lace bugs, are so-called because of the intricate patterning on the bug’s wing case and pronotum (the plate behind the head) that resembles lace.

They belong to the order of hemiptera or ‘true bugs’ and are closely related to shield bugs and aphids. They differ from other insects by the way they feed. True bugs have a non-retractable proboscis (a bit like a drinking straw) which they use to suck their food through. Some feed on the juices of plants, others on animals.

Like many other species of Lace Bug, the new addition to Nottinghamshire is host-specific and is only found feeding and living on their respective host plants. They feed on the sap of the plant by piecing through the upper layer of the leaves with their proboscis. They complete their entire life-cycle on the same plant, if not the same part of the plant.

They are most active in the spring and summer and now is the best time to go out looking for them.

Speaking about the find, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s Head of Communications said:

“It is 50 years this year since Attenborough Nature Reserve was opened by Sir David Attenborough and over the last five decades it has become one of the most visited and best loved nature reserves in the UK. Despite being studies and surveyed for decades new species keep cropping up and we’re delighted that Tim has discovered yet another.”

Attenborough Nature Reserve is restored former sand and gravel works. It is owned by CEMEX UK and managed on behalf of the company by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. It was recently listed in the top five most visited free destinations in the East Midlands by Visit England and regularly features in polls of the UK’s favourite nature reserves.

Posted on 02 September 2016

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