SINGLE digits of rare Gosport weevil in recent survey

The number of Gilkicker weevils has declined in recent years. Picture: Mariko Whyte / HIWWT
The number of Gilkicker weevils has declined in recent years. Picture: Mariko Whyte / HIWWT

JUST nine rare weevils in a Gosport beauty spot were found in a recent survey of the site.

In a snapshot report by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, only nine Gilkicker weevils were spotted left.

The Gilkicker weevil can only be found at Gilkicker Point and Browndown. It has a reddish-brown head and is often found on common bird’s-foot trefoil, but only when the plant is less than 15cm tall and growing on a shingle beach in a sunny, frost-free area. It is these strict living conditions that have made the animal a priority species for conservation in Hampshire.

Fears have been raised in the past about the future of the species, following development work at Fort Gilkicker – but although the trust has found that numbers have dwindled, it believes there may be another reason and says that the survey is simply a snapshot of the area.

Ecologist Sarah Boswell said: ‘There were fewer weevils than we hoped to find, possibly because of the drought earlier in the year.

‘It also looks like there is less common bird’s-foot trefoil compared to last time they were surveyed, which will have had an impact too.

‘we hope to carry out more surveys in the future, which will help us to monitor the species and understand more about the habitat requirements and life cycle of this fascinating weevil.’

The weevils were last surveyed at Gilkicker and Browdown 10 years ago.

However, the Wildlife Trust is optimistic that through careful site management their habitat can be improved allowing them to thrive in future.