A Yorkshire woman made a disturbing discoverythe other morning when getting her government approved hour of exercise in Clayton Bay, Scarborough. Out in the distance, Sue Weatherill noticed what appeared to be large clumps of seaweed. But, upon closer inspection, the reality was much more disturbing.
Thousands of beetles were washed up on the bay, some dead, some still alive and all of them rather creepy. Experts claim that the culprit is the European Chafer beetle but it is unknown how they would have ended up in the UK as they are native only to mainland Europe. Weatherill stated:
I was more stunned realising they were living creatures. There were just masses and masses of them. Usually, you see seaweed left behind by the tide and from a distance that's what it looks like and as you approach you think 'what are these? It's totally different to anything I've seen down there.
Scarborough and Burniston Coastguard Rescue Team were the ones that classified the beetles and on Tuesday they released in a statement that an investigation is underwayto try to figure out the cause for their mass stranding: 'Yesterday afternoon whilst the team were on a coastal patrol, a member of the public alerted them to something strange on the beach.'
'It appears that a large number of European Chafer Beetles have washed up on a few beaches around Scarborough.
'The Coastguard Counter Pollution team have been informed so the source can be investigated.'
Could this be the locusts of God's plague? Director of Science, Professor Jim Hardie doesn't think so.
Hardie believes that they might not be chafer beetles after all, clearing up the reason for their beach appearance. He has pointed out that the European chafer is just not found in the UK and suggest what they are dealing with is actually a heather beetle:
We do have two chafers from the same genus, the summer chafer and A. fallenii, no common name and very local, The chafers are 15-20 mm in length whereas the heather beetle is 4-6 mm in length. There should be no confusion between a chafer and a heather beetle if you have a sample.
Heather beetles are commonly found in the area and may have come over from the North Yorkshire Moors where there are emerging high populations of the species."The heather on the North Yorkshire Moors was covered in the heather beetle last year and there are reports of large populations," Hardie went on to state that the explanation for the stranding was rather simple:
It is the adult beetle that overwinters, presumably enormous numbers survived and at this time of year, they become active and swarm. Possibly swarms were blown out to sea, perished and are now being washed up on the beach.
Hardie's theory is still yet to be confirmed but the Scarborough Borough Council claims that the beetles will soon be washed away with the tides.