First UK sighting of European invertebrate in Hyde Park

Ecologists have recorded the first UK sighting of a European invertebrate in Hyde Park, London.

The Oxycarenus Modestus. Image: Tristan Bantock
The Oxycarenus Modestus. Image: Tristan Bantock

The Oxycarenus Modestus is a ground based bug from the Lygaeid family which originates from Central Europe. It feeds on Alder plants and has been documented as a prominent pest upon Malvaceae, Abutilon, Cola, Eriodendron, Gossypium, Malva, Sphaeralcea, Hibiscus, Pavonia, Sida, Dombeya, Sterculia and Triumfetta.

Consultant ecologiests Jonty Denton and Scotty Dodd spotted the Oxycarenus Modestus while carrying out a survey of pollinator invertebrates in The Royal Parks as part of The Royal Park’s Mission Invertebrate project, which has been awarded £600,000 from the People’s Postcode lottery.

The project aims to examine what, and how, invertebrates use the parks, in order to inform better management of the parks. Alongside professional surveys, the project is using citizen science to gather information. 

Project lead Dr Alice Laughton said: "This exciting discovery helps to highlight the importance and value of projects like Mission Invertebrate. Field research of this kind allows us to monitor the invertebrate community and help us to keep abreast of new species in the capital - as we have seen here with Oxycarenus Modestus. Regular research could also allow us to spot something more serious should that occur in the future, like a pest or disease carrying invertebrate species which could have a negative impact on the environment."

There are over 1.3 million known species of invertebrates and they make up 96% of all known animals. Invertebrates provide vital functions as pollinators, recyclers and as a source of food. The Royal Parks launched Mission Invertebrate because it knew little about its grassland invertebrates.

Among its grassland areas, The Royal Parks cares for lowland acid grassland, a nationally important habitat. It is estimated that there are fewer than 30,000 hectares of lowland acid grassland left in the UK.

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