Sorting the small things that matter

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Many moons ago, when there was still the promise of a summer featuring the sun, Guy Knight in Entomology told us about the fieldwork the team was undertaking in Smardale, Cumbria. Well, the 'field' bit of the work has concluded and now they're spending the winter grubbing through their finds. More from Guy.

a brown butterfly

The Northern Brown Argus

Fieldwork finished for the year at Smardale Gill NNR in October. Despite the poor summer, the monthly visits we made to the site were productive and the winter will be spent sorting through samples back at the museum, identifying specimens and preparing information on conserving insect diversity at the site for our report to the Cumbria Wildlife Trust. Several more pictures from the survey have been added to our Flickr page.

It was good to see large numbers of Scotch Argus and Northern Brown Argus butterfly during the summer. They are the only insects which have been studied in detail at Smardale in the past, where they occur towards the southern limit of their British distribution. Several other significant species have been recorded during the survey so far and we were especially pleased to find the Wall Mason Bee Osmia parietina, a Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species which is restricted in Britain to a handful of sites in north-west England and North Wales.

The team will be returning to Smardale next year when I hope to give more updates on how the work is progressing.