A total of three female W. balticus were found during hand searching amongst dense marram (image below), on semi fixed dunes at Formby National Trust, Merseyside (Image below) on 26th May and 8th June 2021. Specimens were determined using the Neuroptera AIDGAP key (Plant, 1997), and sent to Colin Plant for confirmation and inclusion in the National Lacewing Recording Scheme.
According to the scheme’s data, these records represent the first in North West England, and the first British record in 31 years since a capture in a Rothamsted Insect Survey light trap in August 1990.
W. baliticus is a stenotopic coastal species associated with aphids specific to marram grass (Plant, 1997). It has been previously recorded from several large dune systems in the UK (Map below: Formby record = green dot). The veracity of what appears to be three inland sites, has not been queried by the author. W. baliticus is only occasionally recorded, due to a combination of its small size, pale colouration, and typical habit of dropping to the ground when disturbed, along with its habitat which is both restricted and challenging to sample.
The locality of this discovery at Formby Point is in close proximity to at least three Nationally Rare and Threatened UK invertebrates with a strong affinity to mobile sand dune systems; Rhysodromus fallax (a Vulnerable crab spider), Rhysothorax rufus (an Endangered dung beetle), and Anthicus bimaculatus (a Vulnerable ant-like flower beetle).
Thanks are due to Colin Plant for checking identifications and providing records from the Lacewing Recording Scheme; Kate Martin and Justin Matthews for providing access to Formby National Trust.
Plant, C.W. (1997) A Key to the Adults of British Lacewings and their Allies. Aidgap: Field Studies Council 9 179-269
National Lacewing Recording Scheme data 2022