Great capricorn beetle

Insects and other invertebrates are a group of species of intriguingly great variety and they exist everywhere around us – from the bumblebee flying past to the worm we dig up in the garden and the spider in our cellar. They’re perhaps not the group of animals that encourages the most engagement from us humans, and conservation of invertebrates is so often sidelined as the focus is directed at larger and more charismatic creatures. But what is so often forgotten is the contribution these animals make to our daily lives. Many invertebrates play a key role in the various nutrient levels of our ecosystem. They perform services such as pollination of plants and breaking down of organic matter, and we and nature could not manage without these ‘ecosystem services’.

We at Nordens Ark believe that even the invertebrates are important, and we’re going to do what we can to preserve endangered species within this fascinating animal group.

In 2012, Nordens Ark was commissioned by Kalmar county administrative board to develop and implement a method of breeding the great capricorn beetle (Cerambyx cerdo). This beetle is Sweden’s largest longhorn beetle and can grow up to 5cm long, not including the long antennae. The species is classed as Endangered (EN) and remains in only a single site in Sweden: in the Halltorp nature reserve on the island of Öland.

The great capricorn beetle lives on old oaks with rough bark that are exposed to the sun, and it’s probably the lack of such habitats that is the principal cause of the species’ decline. It’s one of the country’s most endangered species, and will become extinct in the near future if conservation measures are not taken.

Nordens Ark’s first task was to develop a working rearing system that will be used when releases in Sweden begin. Through an agreement with Poland, Nordens Ark was given permission to collect 15 male great capricorn beetles and 15 females each year from 2012 to 2014. The reason for this is that the Swedish population is very fragile, so before having enough knowledge and experience the project choose not to move the Swedish population. The method is now working so in 2015 the project got permission to collect 5 male great Capricorn and 5 females each year from the Halltorp nature reserve on the island of Öland.  The collected beetles are taken to Nordens Ark’s breeding centre, where the adults mate under controlled conditions so that the eggs can be removed and placed in individual breeding jars. The beetles from the Halltorp narure reserve on the island on Öland are brought back there after been mateing during a mounth at Nordens Ark. After a couple of years their brood will be returned to the nature in recomposed places, where the beetles been living in the past. The goal is to strengthen the wild population and one day attain and sustain a viable population of the beetle in Sweden.

Kalmar county administrative board support Nordens Ark’s work in conserving the great capricorn beetle.