Environment

Heswall faces insect infestation

By Mark Gorton at

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have warned that Wirral in general, and Heswall in particular, are likely to be the targets of insects being driven by climate change from their natural homes towards our shores.

The bugs, normally to be found in tropical rain forests, are migrating in search of terrain that matches their normal habitats but offers lower temperatures. The Wirral coastline, and especially the area surrounding Heswall beach with its lush marshland, is precisely the kind of environment these creatures are drawn to.

The migration process began in the last few days, and leading entomologists tracking the insects’ progress by radar say they could arrive in their tens of thousands during the course of next week.

The insects belong to the scarab family of flying beetles – scarabaeus carnivorous is their proper name – and in appearance are not unlike the unpleasant June bugs common in these parts when summer arrives (see picture above). However, they are larger and more aggressive than their local counterparts and are known to feed, like mosquitoes, on the blood of wild animals and livestock and, in some cases, when foodstuffs are in short supply, human beings.

Professor Brian McClennan of the University of Liverpool, said: “Generally speaking, there is nothing to fear from scarabaeus carnivorous, and from a scientific point of view this is the chance of a lifetime to study in detail creatures that are usually only seen beneath the canopy of African and South American rain forests. However, like some wasps they have a bad tempered side, and we cannot predict how they will behave in alien surroundings. Bright colours and sweet smells are particularly attractive to them.

Professor McClennan (far right) was able to study the insects while on a field trip to the Amazon rain forest

“Our advice is not to picnic on jam sandwiches anywhere near the coastline while wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and, should you come face to face with such a beetle, do not try to swat it with a rolled up newspaper as it is likely to give you a good hiding.”

Heswall Today sought reassurance from Merseyside Police. A spokesperson told us: “These are the scariest insects I’ve ever seen! Run! Run for your lives!”