A recent survey by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust revealed that the extremely rare Gilkicker weevil is still present at its only UK stronghold in Gosport.
This species is special because, within the UK, it is only present at Gilkicker Point (the weevil’s namesake) and Browndown. Its scarcity makes it a priority species for conservation in Hampshire.
Gilkicker weevils are about 4mm long with a reddish-brown head, and they will only thrive in very specific conditions. They can be 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.
In the UK there aren’t many places that meet all the criteria, which is why Gilkicker weevils are rarely found.
Sarah Boswell, Ecologist, 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.
‘However 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 ten years ago, and the Wildlife Trust is optimistic that through careful site management the habitat can be improved for the weevils so they can thrive in the future.