Amazingly, local naturalist and photographer Gino Brignoli has found three nationally Endangered insects in Tower Hamlets this month. In addition to the flat-footed fly Agathomyia collini at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park previously reported, Gino has found another rare fly at Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, and a spectacular beetle at a location that’s being kept confidential. Gino writes:
I was beyond excited to find the Eyed Longhorn Beetle (Oberea oculata) (left – click on photo to enlarge) at a site in Tower Hamlets on 17 July. Because this is such a rare and beautiful beetle, I have been advised by Wil Heeney, the National Longhorn Beetle Recorder, that we should avoid publicising its location as we want to avoid any disruption to what might be a newly-colonised site.
O. oculata was classified as Critically Endangered in a review of the status of longhorn beetles (family Cerambycidae) in Britain, undertaken for Natural England in 2019. The only recent records of the species are from the Cambridgeshire fens, where it has severely declined.
I found the picture-winged fly Tephritis praecox (see header photo) in the medicine garden at Bethnal Green Nature Reserve on 24 July. The identification has been confirmed by Laurence Clemons, the national recording scheme organiser for picture-winged flies (family Tephritidae). This is the second record for Middlesex – the first was recorded from Barnet on 9 April 2016.
In 1985 T. praecox was listed as Red Data Book category 1, which was equivalent to Endangered. Numbers have been steadily increasing since then so that this probably needs revising. Also, as this is one of the smallest tephritid flies (wing length 1.8 to 3.2 mm) it is probably under-recorded. For more information on T. praecox, see wikipedia.
Photos by Gino Brignoli