Ringstead Bay beach woodlouse find 'first for Dorset'

Coastal woodlouse Stenophiloscia glarearum at Ringstead Bay beach Image copyright Steve Trewhella ukcoastalwidlife
Image caption Stenophiloscia glarearum woodlice grow up to 6mm (0.2 inches)

An "extremely elusive" coastal woodlouse has been recorded in Dorset for the first time, according to conservationists.

Four Stenophiloscia glarearum, which grow up to 6mm (0.2 inches), were spotted on Ringstead Bay beach by naturalist Steve Trewhella.

They have previously only been recorded at three sites in the UK - in Norfolk, Devon and Essex.

Charity Buglife, which has verified the find, described it as "very exciting".

Image copyright Steve Trewhella ukcoastalwildlife
Image caption The species is found on coastal strandlines among washed up seaweed and other debris

Steve Gregory, consultant ecologist at the British Myriapod and Isopod Group (BMIG) Woodlice Recording Scheme, also said he had "no doubt" about the identification.

Mr Gregory said: "It is an extremely elusive species, very difficult to find, and probably not as rare as the records would suggest.

"However, in 30 years of recording woodlice I have only found it once."

Image copyright Ian Saunders
Image caption Naturalist Steve Trewhella found four Stenophiloscia glarearum on Ringstead Bay beach

Andrew Whitehouse, from Buglife, said: "It's only been recorded in Norfolk, Essex and Devon before, so it's very exciting to find it in a new county.

"Hopefully, it'll encourage more people to look for them in our strandlines - an unloved feature of our coast, which most people view in a negative way as a big, smelly pile of seaweed."

Mr Trewhella, who has also contacted the Dorset Environmental Records Centre for verification, said: "It highlights how little we know about this unique habitat - a very rare species right under our noses."

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