‘In a world of increasing ecological fragility, there has been no more important moment to focus on the health of nature and what it means to us as human beings, and how we relate to it.’ – Lord Edward Manners.
Distinguished from other insects by their front pair of wings which are hardened into wing-cases and their particularly hard exoskeleton, they come in a vast variety of sizes, shapes and colours and are often very beautiful. Within the order Coleoptera can be found Weevils (Curculionidae), Darkling Beetles (Tenebrionidae), Ground Beetles (Carabidae), Leaf Beetles (Chrysomelidae), and Long-horned Beetles (Cerambycidae), to name but a few.
Found in almost every habitat but the sea, they interact with their ecosystem in a number of ways including: feeding on plants and fungi, breaking down animal and plant debris and eating other invertebrates. all of which have positive benefits for the environment.
In 2014, a beetle survey was undertaken in the parkland by Thomas Eccles and Graham Maynard.
Thomas Eccles writes: The species of Coleoptera (beetles) discovered so far suggest that Haddon Medieval Park, unsurprisingly, is an ancient site with a history of habitat continuity. The definition of an ancient woodland is a wood which is documented as being in existence since 1600. There has probably been some form of woodland here since that period and before, most likely as parkland with few scattered old trees managed as wood pasture with livestock grazing beneath very open canopy.
The beetle fauna reflects this “ancientness”, with what is known as ancient woodland indicators. These species are seldom if ever, found away from ancient sites. They mostly have limited powers of dispersal and once a site has been de-forested, they do not return. The tiny (3mm) Abraeus granulum (10) is a strong indicator of ancient woodland. It lives in the decayed wood of various deciduous trees where it preys on mites and other minute invertebrates. I have encountered several other indicator species.
Saproxylic Fauna Group – Ancient Woodland Indicators
1 = strong indicator; 2 = intermediate; 3 = weaker indicator
Abraeus granulum – 1
Sinodendron cylindricum – 3
Thanasimus formicariu – 3
Rhizophagus nitidulus – 3
Bipyllus lunatus – 3
Diplocoelus fagi – 2
Triplax aenea – 3
Mycetophagus atomarius – 3
Bitoma crenata – 3
Tetratoma fungorum – 3
Pyrochroa coccinea – 3
Orchesia undulata – 3
Platyrhinus resinosus – 3
Also, excitingly within Thomas Eccles and Graham Maynard’s report, eight species of interest were specifically mentioned – please see our endangered/rare section.
Thomas Eccles, continues by writing that The fauna of Haddon Park is constantly changing. There have been few, if any, extinctions, but some species which were considered rare by earlier entomologists have recovered and are now sometimes abundant. The bright blue Alder Leaf Beetle Agelastica alni and Enicmus brevicornis are examples of these. The Park also provides habitats for species which were unknown in the UK even a few years ago: Cyphea curtula and Xylostiba bosnica arrived just over a decade ago. They both occur at Haddon under dead bark of old trees. These are small obscure species, unlikely to be generally noticed, but the large and very variably marked Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis (11) will attract attention. It arrived from Eastern Europe in the nineties and is now widespread and frequent at Haddon.
Thomas Eccles concludes that Haddon’s Medieval park, is all the more interesting to me because, unlike nearby comparable Parkland sites, it has not received the attention of entomologists. I am confident that many more interesting species await discovery.
Thomas Eccles has studied the beetle fauna of this country and France for over fifty years. He has discovered several species new to the UK and published accounts of their discovery in the entomological journals. He is an accomplished illustrator, as shown by the drawings illustrated within this site. He has had an eclectic career including working as a geologist, a Senior Countryside ranger and a local government officer in Leisure and Planning departments. He is retired and lives in Tideswell.