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UK Seeks To Reintroduce Insects

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When most people think of reintroducing a protected species back into the wild, most of us think of wolves, bison, and bears, but the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Scotland plans on reintroducing four species of dwindling insets. RSPB plans to reintroduce the dark bordered beauty moth, which is only known from only three locations in the UK, all of them unprotected

Living up to its name, the moth is a lovely species: tawny yellow with brown on its wing’s edges. RSPB is working with Butterfly Conservation to establish a breeding program for eventual rerelease. RSPB is also working with Scottish Natural Heritage to reintroduce the pine hoverfly in 2011. The fly only breeds in rotting hollow tree stumps, which are largely missing in the UK due to forestry practices. In addition, the RSPB is working on projects to release field crickets into the Surrey and Sussex heathlands, and return the short haired bumblebees to Kent. The RSPB has successfully reintroduced birds in the past, but insect reintroductions are proving to be an entirely different animal. According to the RSPB, “Conservation is about much more than simply stopping damaging activities to protect what is there. We have a duty to take positive action to restore species that have been lost. We have the ability to enhance and improve our existing habitats and countryside, and we are actively engaged in trying to achieve that.” The RSPB plans to use this project as a launching vehicle for their participation in the U.N. 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. The conservation efforts on the part of the RSPB is quite notable. I’m not sure I’ve come across any plans in the U.S. to reintroduce native insects back into the environment. The only conservation discussions I’ve come across regard the humble honey bee, and their declining numbers. Insects play a vital role in our own biodiversity, and should always be considered in our efforts to protect the environment.

John Vlahakis

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