Pleurotus_ostreatus,_Oyster_Mushroom,_Enfield,_UK (2) crop

Forage responsibly for the endangered Southern Oyster Mushroom Beetle

When we heard about the plight of the Southern Oyster Mushroom Beetle from Charlotte at The Species Recovery Trust, we wanted to do something to raise awareness of the need for responsible foraging and allow you to be able to support their projects by donating as this is an issue close to our hearts, and on our doorstepin East Sussex and Kent. As the Autumn sets in, there’s no better way to feel in touch with nature than to spend a day in the fresh air, forage some of Autumn’s harvest and bring it home to make a delicious meal, but do be considerate to the ecosystems you’re entering, and have a look at this guide for other non mushroom options too

Over to Charlotte

“There are many benefits of growing your own mushrooms – it is great fun, amazing to watch them grow, and at the end of it you get to eat delicious mushrooms, far tastier than those you would buy in a supermarket!

But there is another benefit to growing your own mushrooms that is not so obvious – you are helping to save a very rare beetle. The Southern Oyster Mushroom Beetle is a tiny beetle native to the UK that feeds on wild oyster mushrooms. Sadly this beetle has become rarer and rarer in recent years and is now on the brink of extinction in the UK.

Keep a lookout for this little beetle (Triplax-lacordairii) next time you're foraging. Image credit Mark Telfer

Keep a lookout for this little beetle (Triplax-lacordairii) next time you’re foraging. Image credit Mark Telfer

The reasons for this decline are twofold, both linked to the oyster mushrooms that the beetle depends on for food. Firstly, much of the ancient woodland in the UK has been destroyed and so there are fewer places for oyster mushrooms to grow. Secondly, as autumn settles in and the weather becomes colder and wetter, thousands of people in Britain head to the woods to forage for mushrooms. Although this is an enjoyable experience and helps to keep us connected to nature, by collecting oyster mushrooms, you are helping to destroy the chances of one the country’s rarest creatures, the Southern Oyster Mushroom Beetle.

Oyster Mushrooms growing in 'secret' london park - perfect habitat for Southern Oyster Mushroom Beetle

Oyster Mushrooms growing in ‘secret’ london park – perfect habitat for Southern Oyster Mushroom Beetle

The Species Recovery Trust, a charity aiming to protect species that are going extinct in the UK, is currently working to protect this beetle. We plan to carry out extensive surveys of the sites where the beetle is thought to survive, and then use the results of these surveys to guide habitat restoration work to give the beetle the best chance of surviving into the future. But sadly, this project will be unlikely to succeed if we cannot also reduce the pressure of mushroom picking.

To help to save this beetle we are trying to encourage people to grow their own mushrooms at home, or to collect wild oyster mushrooms responsibly (this is the Scottish Wild Mushroom Code) – don’t take more mushrooms than you need and make sure that you leave some for the beetles! And if you think you see a Southern Oyster Mushroom Beetle on a wild mushroom, please do not pick it!

If you would like to help us save this rare beetle, you can also give a donation to the Species Recovery Trust here or by texting ‘TSRT20’ followed by either £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070.”

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