Chafing at the bit to find rare Noble beetle

Noble chafer grub
Noble chafer grub

A RARE beetle that was once considered extinct in Bucks has returned.

A RARE beetle that was once considered extinct in Bucks has returned.

The Noble Chafer, which is classified as vulnerable throughout the UK, has been re-discovered living in old plum tree orchard near Buckinghamshire’s border with Bedfordshire.

Insect lover and heritage fruit tree expert Andy Howard identified the larvae of the beetle when inspecting a traditional plum orchard in the Aylesbury Prunes.

People in the Buckingham and Winslow area are being asked to look out for the larvae as it could be in north Bucks too.

Mr Howard’s find was verified by entomological experts Martin Harvey and Mark Tefler who found two further larvae and fragments of at least four adult Noble Chafer beetles.

Mr Howard had spotted a hole in the main trunk beneath the bough of one of the 80 year old tree Aylesbury Prunes and noticed it was full of a deep layer of frass, a powdery material passed as waste by insects after eating plants.

He said: “The hole was large enough to get my hand in easily as I have small hands. While extracting the frass to photograph as habitat evidence, a Scarabaeidae type larvae was then spotted and I got very excited.”

As a founder member of the Mid-Shires Orchard Group, which holds events around the Buckingham and Winslow area Mr Howard added: “The conservation value of surviving traditional orchards are immense, especially when you consider that 60 per cent of UK orchards have been lost since 1950.

“Even though they may have passed optimum fruit production, older orchards can act as oases for invertebrates.”

The Noble Chafer was once a key part of the county’s natural history as it once had many plum and cherry orchards until after the Second World War.