A primary school pupil from Oxfordshire has discovered a rare beetle in her school grounds that has now become part of the collections at Oxford University Museum of Natural History
. It is the first beetle of its kind to be added to the historically-important British insect collections since the 1950s.
Ten-year-old Sarah Thomas of Abbey Woods Academy in Berinsfield found the beetle while taking part in the Museums Project Insect initiative. The 5mm specimen was later placed under a microscope and identified as a False Darkling Beetle by Darren Mann, a professional entomologist and head of the Museums Life Collections, who was visiting the school with the team.
Its Anisoxya fuscula, which is rated as Nationally Scarce in Great Britain, says Darren Mann. We seldom see these outside old forest habitats and this is the first beetle of its kind to be added to the collections for around 70 years.
The Heritage Lottery Fund-supported Project Insect programme is reaching out to pupils in state primary schools across Oxfordshire, using the Museums British insect collection to spark curiosity and foster a love of natural history. Sarah Thomas found the False Darkling Beetle as part of a Project Insect visit, when her class met a professional entomologist, learnt about insect anatomy and how to identify and classify specimens, and went on the hunt for insects in the school grounds.
Before Project Insect I didnt really like insects, but now I really do, said Sarah, after her find was added to the Museum collections.
Fran Long, part of the Project Insect team with Rodger Caseby, said: Sarahs find is fantastic and were delighted that Project Insect has already had this kind of impact. We hope that the pupils weve met will continue to collect insects and spread the word about how important they are budding young entomologists are being created!