THE role of York’s Rawcliffe Meadows as the vital home of the rare tansy beetle has been highlighted in a new report by Natural England.

The government’s advisor on the natural environment has published the report in collaboration with Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust, as part of the Species Status Project.

This is a new initiative to provide up-to-date assessments of the threat status of various species of insects with the aim of helping conservation organisations to target future action.

The report says latest research has revealed that many of Britain’s leaf beetles and stoneflies are on a red list of species that are under threat of local extinction It says the tansy beetle is a rare and visually-stunning iridescent green beetle which was once widespread in British wetland areas but is currently critically endangered, not just in the UK but across the world.

“It is now a conservation priority species in England, which means that public bodies have a duty to protect it, together with its habitat,” it says.

“It was believed to have one last remaining stronghold in the UK on a 30km stretch of the banks of the River Ouse in York, mainly eating tansy, a perennial herb which has given the beetle its name.

“At their York site, they complete their entire life cycle on and around the plant, beside riverbanks or in wetlands.”

The report says Clifton Ings and Rawcliffe Meadows were confirmed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in May last year, and work is under way to improve its habitat and control the increase of invasive species, such as the Himalayan balsam, which has resulted in a decline in tansy plants over the past few decades or so.

It says another population of tansy beetle was discovered in the East Anglian fens last July after a 40-year absence, which demonstrated the resilience of the species when given the right conditions.

It adds that Natural England has been working closely with partners to create new habitat there.