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New species bugs the UK

A planthopper which is new to the UK has been found in large numbers on spartina grass in the South of England.

Dr Mike Wilson, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales' Head of Entomology and Curator of Hemiptera spotted the Prokelisia marginata in Europe 10 years ago. He first saw the hopper in the Algarve and Spain, in Slovenia in 2004 and has now also discovered dense groups of the insect in the area of Southampton Water and in Poole Harbour

The saltmarsh leafhopper comes in two forms - long winged which can fly and short winged which cannot fly but can lay more eggs. It lives on Spartina grass, commonly known as cordgrass which grows in large colonies, particularly on coastal saltmarshes.

"Until now, very few people in the UK have been interested in this group of insects," said Dr Wilson, one of only two specialists in the UK who actively studies the UK leafhopper fauna. "Yet, it has the potential to damage plants by feeding and spreading plant diseases."

The Prokelisia marginata is familiar to our counterparts in the United States and is the first grass feeding planthopper to have become established in Europe from North America. It is believed to have come over to this country from Europe on spartina grass which was used for packing materials in ships.

Admission to National Museum Cardiff is free thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Amgueddfa Cymru operates seven national museums across Wales. These are National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

Ends

For further information, please contact Catrin Mears, Communications Officer on 029 2057 3185/07920 027067 or email catrin.mears@museumwales.ac.uk.

 

Date: 10 December 2008
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