Rare beetle found in west county Limerick

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

Rare beetle found in west county Limerick

Amateur entomologist Alan Brown

BALLYSTEEN has been the location for some rare finds in recent times by amateur entomologist Alan Brown.

Last summer, Alan, discovered an extremely rare beetle, the Crucifix Ground Beetle (Panagaeus cruxmajor) in a marshy area near in Ballysteen.

“It is one of the more colourful ones,” Alan said, telling about his find to the Limerick Leader. “I knew it straightaway.”

It happened, he recalled last July 31. “I found it on marshy ground in Moig South. I was going around, looking through the reeds when all of a sudden it was there.”

Later, Alan found a second one. “That is all I have seen unfortunately,” he said. “Their natural habitat is areas that are flooded during the winter.”

The Crucifix Ground Beetle, he added,  feeds on aquatic snails, keeping down that population.

“It’s  classed as rare or endangered all over Europe,” Alan continued.

Last summer, Alan was carrying out an insect survey for Belfast-based entomologist Professor Roy Anderson, something he has been doing each year for the past four years. “He collects all my records for a national database,” Alan explained.“ He told me he had only ever seen one and that was ten years ago.I think he is planning to visit Askeaton.”

Records show that the Crucifix Ground Beetle has been found in the Burren and in parts of Co Galway but  is, Alan said, a first for for the records in Co Limerick.

But the Crucifix Ground Beetle is not the only insect treasure Alan has found.

A number of years ago, he found a Plumtree Longhorn Beetle, an insect not seen since 1930. And he found it in his parents’ garden in Ballysteen.

“I am an amateur entomologist,” Alan said. For the survey work, he dons his high wellies and goes out at night which is when the beetles come out.  A

ny ones he is unsure about, he sends on to Prof Anderson.