An 'incredibly rare' beetle has been found at the launch event for a conservation programme in the Outer Hebrides.

The Short-necked Oil Beetle is one of the UK’s rarest inhabitants and has so-far only been found in a handful of far-flung locations on Scottish islands.  

NatureScot report that 24 were found during an event to kick off a new multi-species conservation programme, Species on the Edge, on North Uist.

The find was made by event hosts and participants at Balranald Nature Reserve on the north west coast of North Uist after the conservation programme activity kicked off last month.

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Enthusiasts also went searching for the beetle on Tiree and were also successful, marking the first time short-necked oil beetles have been found on the island.

Sally Morris, Buglife Conservation Officer, said “In 2020, the only known populations of short-necked oil beetles in Scotland were found on the Isle of Coll. Thanks to increased awareness through Species on the Edge, more populations have been found around Scotland. 

“Short-necked oil beetles are rare in Great Britain and vulnerable to extinction due to their small, scattered populations. Presence of short-necked oil beetles are a great indicator of a healthy biodiverse ecosystem, as their lifecycle is linked to the northern colletes mining bee, a species that relies on flower-rich coastal grassland. Over the next four years, we will be talking to landowners about how they can manage their land to provide the right conditions for the short-necked oil beetle, and other invertebrate species.” 

Fiona Strachan, NatureScot’s Species on the Edge Programme Manager said “It was great to be able to join the Outer Hebrides Species on the Edge team and take part in the first event of this exciting new programme. Finding short-necked oil beetles at a new site was fantastic and highlighted how much there still is to learn and discover about species living on our coasts and islands.” 


The event also marked the launch of Buglife’s citizen science project, the Scottish Oil Beetle Search. 

Katy Malone (Bumblebee Conservation Trust), Outer Hebrides Area Manager for the Species on the Edge Programme, was excited about finding the rare beetle and the launch of public events in the Outer Hebrides.

She said: “This workshop marks the start of a four-year programme in the Outer Hebrides, and for me, it could not have gone any better. This is the first event of many that we have planned over the next four years. Residents and visitors should particularly watch out for the Outer Hebrides Wildlife Festival, which is being co-ordinated by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust over the next four years as part of the wider Species on the Edge programme.” 

The Outer Hebrides Wildlife Festival will be taking place from Saturday, June 24 to Saturday, July 1 2023 and is an opportunity for attendees to get closer to nature through guided walks, boat trips, outdoor activities, exhibitions and more. There is still time to contribute to the festival, whether by hosting an event, helping at events, or helping organise the festival. For more information and to get involved, email