A nature success story

An endangered insect is flourishing in a quiet corner of Anglesey.

This summer, more than 130 male southern damselflies have been counted on a Site of Special Scientific Interest at Cors Erddreiniog, which is managed in cooperation with the local landowner.

Here, at their most northern location in the UK, these delicate insects thrive in open runnels within the fen habitat. The males are easily recognised with their distinctive blue and black markings, whilst females are mostly black.

The reserve also boasts another rarity - one of the largest UK populations of the Clubbed General, a large and attractive soldierfly.

Cors Erddreiniog National Nature Reserve Manager Emyr Humphreys says: “We hear so often about the Nature Emergency and the loss of biodiversity, which is deeply worrying. But our work at Cors Erddreiniog shows that if the conditions are right, wildlife will return.”

The secret to success has been simple….

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, grazing maintained the open, short vegetation conditions needed by these rare insects. Later, when grazing was reduced – and then abandoned – the invertebrates suffered.

Through cooperation with the landowner, grazing has been restored since 2017.

The most sensitive alkaline fen areas have also been strimmed and vegetation raked up and collected. Other areas were cut with the specialist cut and collect machine.  The landowner was then able to use the cut vegetation as livestock bedding.

And the results speak for themselves.

Emyr added: “Whilst sympathetic management is already making a difference, over time - as long as we continue in this way - the site will become even richer botanically, helping to restore more species.”

Visitors to Cors Erddreiniog are advised to stick to the marked routes.