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Action for Species 2: Endangered Insects - 15 April 2008

The second in Royal Mail's new nature series, 'Action for Species' concentrates on insects. The series examines UK species that are endangered, but thanks to the efforts of conservation groups and the public, are now on the way to recovery. The issue comprises of ten 1st class stamps in a se-tenant block featuring UK insect species that are endangered. The insects featured were short listed by experts from the Natural History Museum, the Zoological Society of London and British Trust for Conservation and specimens were photographed at the Natural History Museum's studios. Each stamp features a photograph of the insect together with its common and scientific name.


All images are copyright Royal Mail.
Wildlife Trusts and others wishing to use images on websites or in magazines should contact Royal Mail's Intellectual Property Department.

set of 10 insect stamps - Adonis Blue butterfly, Southern 
Damselfly, Red Barbed Ant, Barberry Carpet moth, Stag Beetle, Hazel Pot Beetle, Field Cricket, Silver-spotted Skipper, Purbeck Mason wasp, and Noble Chafer beetle.

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1. Adonis Blue Butterfly

2. Southern Damselfly

3. Red Barbed Ant

4. Barberry Carpet Moth

5. Stag Beetle

6. Hazel Pot Beetle

7. Field Cricket

8. Silver-spotted Skipper

9. Purbeck Mason Wasp

10. Noble Chafer Beetle

The insects in detail

Adonis Blue, Lysandra bellargus
A brilliant, sky-blue butterfly, found only on south facing downland slopes in southern England. It has declined since the 1950s, partly due to myxomatosis in rabbits, and inappropriate grazing, as it needs close-cropped turf, where Horseshoe Vetch the caterpillar's foodplant grows. Since the recovery of the rabbit population in the last 20 years, the butterfly too has made some recovery. Nationally Scarce

Southern Damselfly, Coenagrion mercuriale
This delicate species resembles several other closely related, far commoner blue damselflies, but its habitat requirements are specific. It only occurs near streams on open heathland and less often chalk, with a relatively high constant temperature. It is on the north-western edge f its range in Europe but the loss of suitable habitat by shading out, drainage and nutrient enrichment have contributed to its decline in the past 40 years. Rare

Red-barbed Ant, Formica rufibarbis
Mainly an open heathland species, which nests below ground or beneath stones. First discovered just over 100 years ago, this ant has always been regarded as rare but has declined further as lowland heaths have been destroyed, it now occurs on just 2 mainland sites and 1 on the Scilly Isles. Endangered

Barberry Carpet Moth, Pareulype berberata
The large-scale removal of the larval foodplant, Barberry, once regarded as an agricultural pest species, as it harbours wheat-rust fungus, led to a dramatic decline of this once widespread moth. In the 1980s it was reduced to just one locality but the reintroduction of Barberry and of captive bred moths has reversed the decline. Endangered

Stag Beetle, Lucanus cervus
This is our largest land beetle, which reaches a length of 75mm, but only the male that has the impressive stags antlers, the female's jaws being reduced to sharp pincers. Its larvae live for up to 4 years years, feeding on decaying wood below ground. Gardeners are encouraged to leave rotting stumps and branches in the ground, and to be less thorough in tidying up. Its distribution is fragmented throughout southern and south-east England, though its numbers have stabilised. Rare

Hazel Pot Beetle, Cryptocephalus coryli
Restricted to only a few sites in Surrey, Berkshire and Lincolnshire, this small beetle was once widespread in southern England. It lives on Hazel and young Birch trees and its decline is probably related to the reduction of Hazel coppicing in the south, and the removal of Birch from heathland in Lincolnshire. Endangered

Field Cricket, Gryllus campestris
Never a common insect in Britain, the Field Cricket has declined through loss of habitat and now only occurs naturally in one population in West Sussex. Found on light sandy soil on sunny, south facing slopes, males proclaim their territories by making a penetrating chirrup at the entrance of their burrows. A captive breeding and release partnership between Natural England and the London Zoo has resulted in the establishment of several more colonies in southern England. Endangered

Silver-spotted Skipper, Hesperia comma
This butterfly thrives on close-cropped, south facing, chalk downland, but in the past 50 years these habitats and the butterfly have declined drastically. The lack of grazing and myxomatosis in rabbits has also resulted in too deep a sward, which affects breeding success, however, management of many sites and the recovery of rabbits in the last 20 years has led to some re-expansion. Rare

Purbeck Mason Wasp, Pseudepipona herrichii
This small, attractive wasp is now restricted to just 7 heathland sites in Dorset, which are fortunately all in, or close to, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). The female makes her nest in a hole below ground, which she provisions with Tortricoid moth caterpillars for her larvae to feed on. Areas of bare clay soil amongst the heather, where the wasp can burrow, are essential for breeding, and the management of suitable sites is now being undertaken to prevent the shading-out of suitable heathland. Vulnerable

Noble Chafer, Gnorimus nobilis
A beautiful metallic green beetle, related and similar to the Rose Chafer, most likely to be seen on warm summer days on the flowers of various umbellifers. It occurs in old orchards and open woodland where the larvae live for up to two years, in the decaying branches, mainly of old fruit trees. Due to the removal of old orchards, it has declined seriously and is now found only in parts of central and western England and the New Forest. Vulnerable

Royal Mail fdc for endangered insects stamps 15 April 2008.Technical details: The 35mm square stamps are designed by Andrew Ross using photography from the Natural History Museum. In sheets of 30/60 they are printed in lithography by De La Rue Security Print, perf 14.

The stamp and postmark images are Copyright 2007/8 by Royal Mail.

Products issued:
Presentation Pack
Royal Mail fdc
Set of 10 Stamp Cards unused -


Special Postmarks
Postmarks available for the day of issue will be shown below here; these may not be to scale. These postmarks cannot be obtained to order after 15 April.

postmark illustrated with an insect (wasp?). postmark illustrated with ants. Crawley non-illustrated postmark. Image awaited - similar to this Postmark showing a dragonfly. Postmark showing a noble chafer beetle.
Ref FD811
Official Philatelic Bureau FDI.
Ref FD812
Official Crawley FDI postmark.
Ref FD812NP
Official Crawley non-pictorial FDI postmark
Ref M10937
Insects, Crawley Walk, Cradley Heath
Ref N10939
Endangered Insects, Sheffield
postmark illustrated with dragonflies. postmark illustrated with cartoon bug. postmark illustrated with a buttefly. Postmark illustrated with a butteflies. Postmark with text as below.
Ref M10934
Endangered Insects, Peterborough.
Ref M10935
Insects, Bugbrooke, Northampton.
Ref L10931
Butterfly Lane, Elstree, Herts
Ref L10929
Endangered Insects, London NW1
Ref L10932
Britain's First brown-field Nature reserve, Canvey Island
postmark illustrated with an ant. postmark illustrated with Butterfly?. postmark illustrated with cartoon bugs. Postmark notes:
L10928 - SW7 - Natural History Museum;
L10929 - NW1 - London Zoo;
S10939 - Sheffield - HQ of Natural England;
L10932 - Canvey - RSPB Canvey;
Ref L10928
Endangered Insects, London SW7.
Ref M10938
The Red Adminral, Liecester.
Ref M10936
Insects, Bugbrooke, Northampton.

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This page updated 1 April 2008

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