One of the UK’s most highly threatened and unusual beetles has been discovered in a number of new locations in the Cotswolds thanks to an innovative conservation scheme.

The Rugged Oil Beetle, which is said to resemble a walking black olive, has been found in six new sites in Gloucestershire over the last year, following conservation work which is part of the Back from the Brink (BftB) project.

The beetle, which secretes a toxic oil from its legs to deter predators, is notoriously difficult to spot as it is restricted to just a handful of sites in Southern England and Wales and only comes out at night in late autumn and winter.

The Back from the Brink project, made possible thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and People’s Postcode Lottery, aims to save 20 species from extinction and benefit over 200 more through 19 projects that span England.

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Funding for the BftB project has paid for workshops in which volunteers have been trained to identify the beetles.

Over the autumn and winter these volunteers set out under the cover of darkness, armed with torches, to scour promising sites for the beetle.

Despite several fruitless searches, six new sites for the beetle were discovered taking the total number of Rugged Oil Beetle locations known in the Cotswolds to 17.

The conservation work for the Rugged Oil Beetle is part of Back from the Brink’s Limestone’s Living Legacies project which aims to restore rare grassland habitats across the Cotswolds.