A RARE insect which is almost extinct in the United Kingdom has been reintroduced to the centre of York.

The Tansy beetle can only be found in this country on a 30km stretch of the banks of the River Ouse, but a new colony has now been introduced to a more central location.

Yesterday, 29 of the tiny, green beetles were released into a specially-created habitat in York’s Museum Gardens.

Isla Gladstone, curator of natural sciences at the museum, said: “We are really pleased to be able to introduce this beautiful but extremely rare species into the York Museum Gardens.

“With the beetle having a home right in the city centre it will not only increase the range of the beetle, but also allow our visitors to York to learn more about this protected species.”

The beetle used to be common around the country, but loss of habitat through flooding and grazing cattle has meant its colonies have been restricted to the small area around the River Ouse.

To create this new habitat, the Tansy Beetle Action Group has worked with York Museums Trust, and hopes it will help increase awareness about the species.

The new environment for the beetles has been specially designed to try to ensure the insect can thrive, including beds of Tansy plants, which the beetles feed on in summer months.

Isla said: “They have been bred in captivity by the the Tansy Beetle Action Group for release and we are hoping it will be a safe locality for them.

“We’re also hoping it will be something visitors will be able to come and have a closer look at before they hibernate underground in the next couple of weeks until about April. We will have a count when they come up next year.”