Monday, 14 July 2014

Aromia moschata on the River Itchen, Shawford, Hampshire - July 2014

Yesterday (13th July) afternoon I went for a stroll along part of the River Itchen near Shawford, Hampshire. The River Itchen is one of the best examples of a chalk river and flows for 28 miles from mid-Hampshire to Southampton. The Itchen Navigation is a modified part of the river and former canal which was used to ship freight, such as timer and chalk, to the Port of Southampton. The advent of the railway saw the end of the need for the navigation and it fell into disrepair. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust managed a project to restore the old navigation, and preserve it for future generations. Details of the project can be found here

I was keen to see the Itchen Navigation, which was my main reason for going there, but as with any site, you never know what wildlife you might find. Being a Sunday morning it was quite busy, with dog walkers, fisherman, picnickers and swimmers all using the river. But at the busiest spot, and where one might least expect to find something, I noticed a large longhorn beetle quietly going about its business.

The Musk Beetle Aromia moschata

The Musk Beetle Aromia moschata is a large metallic green beetle, with a body length of between 13 - 35 mm. It is easily identified by its large size and metallic green colour. Adult beetles are found in wet areas from May to September, and can be found visiting the flowers of umbellifers, such as hog weed and meadowsweet, as with this individual. 

Musk Beetle

The larvae live in young and healthy willows Salix sp. and take three or more years to reach maturity. The antennae are conspicuously long, and in the male reach the apex of the elytra, when laid back. Looking at the length of the antennae on this individual it is clear that it is a male.

Musk Beetle

In the UK the Musk Beetle is locally distributed and is classified a Nationally Scarce B, which means that the species is found in between 31 out of 100 tetrads. Referring to the National Biodiversity Network Gateway, which is found here, I see that the species has been recorded in this 10km square before, albeit to the south.

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