Large weevil invading the north-west?

June 28th 2018

Leaving windows and doors open has helped cool the house during the unusually hot spell we have been enjoying.   However, that does mean that the outside can readily find its way inside, as was the case with this large beetle, which appeared in my utility room on 2nd June 2018.

The snout or rostrum on the front of its head, bearing angled antennae near the end, identifies it as a weevil.  At about 13mm long it must be one of the largest British members of that group, and its size and pattern allow it to be confidently named as the pine weevil Hylobius abietis (some 613 species of weevils occur in the British Isles).

Its larvae occur in the stumps of pines, spruces and other conifers and the adults feed on their needles and other plants.  As a result, it is not a great favourite amongst foresters, being described as a ‘notorious, troublesome and intractable pest, particularly of regeneration forestry’.

Mike Morris, the national expert on weevils, with whom I was at university, said in the definitive work on this group, published in 2002, that it was at that time ‘not recorded north of West Ross’.  However, the late Non Macleod found one at Drumbeg (NC1232) on 14thMay 1999, I had another at Nedd (NC1331) on 15thMay 2000, and I saw one on the road to Loch a’Mhuilinn (NC0243) on 23rdMay of this year.  It would appear to have established a beachhead in West Sutherland, perhaps under the influence of global warming?

Ian M. Evans

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Recent Sightings

Kittiwake

c100 adult and 1st-winter birds feeding off Clachtoll (DAH) (24/09)

Tufted Duck

two male birds on Loch Drumbeg (DAH) (22/09)

Merlin

single bird near Stoer Village Hall (DAH) (21/09)

UPDATE on colour-ringed Oystercatcher

we have heard back from the Icelandic Wader Group regarding the colour-ringed Oystercatcher spotted at Bay of Culkein on Tuesday. It was ringed, as an adult, near its nest while it was territory-guarding on 19th May this year; the location was Eskifjorour which is on the east coast of Iceland. We will post a short article on the Field Club's website in the next few days regarding other sightings of colour-ringed birds recorded in Assynt (DAH) (20/09)

Pink-footed Goose

c225, in four skeins, heading east over Culkein Drumbeg (DAH). Oh boy, it's autumn! (20/09)

Wigeon

single male in eclipse plumage Loch Inver (DAH) (20/09)

Manx Shearwater

young bird rescued from a garden at Inchnadamph (Chris Rix/Andy Summers). The bird, which was well off-course, was successfully released at Stoer the next day. (18/09)

Oystercatcher

four birds resting on rocks Bay of Culkein (DAH). One of these birds, an adult, had a combination of coloured rings on its legs. The details have been submitted to the appropriate ringing scheme, which appears to be the International Wader Study Group, and we will report back once we hear from them. (18/09)

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