Flixweed Flea Beetle (Psylliodes sophiae) - Species Action Plan

Psylliodes sophiae is a species of disturbed ground and probably also grassland, particularly on sandy soils of the Breckland of East Anglia. It is apparently associated only with the crucifer, flixweed Descurainia sophia(a plant of very sporadic occurrence). The larvae probably mine the pithy flowering stems of flixweed, emerging when fully grown to pupate in the soil. Flixweed Flea Beetle
(Photo credit: English Nature)
Ref L/S2 Local Species Action Plan 2
Plan Author: Norfolk County Council (H. Thompson)
Plan Co-ordinator: Farmland BAP Topic Group
Plan Leader: Norfolk County Council
Stage: Final Date: Jan 2008

Action Plan Summary

Current Status

National Status

  • Before 1970, the flixweed flea beetle was known from west Suffolk, west Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdon; there is also an old record from Bristol, west Gloucestershire which requires confirmation. The most recent records of this species are from Bodney Camp on the edge of Stanford PTA, west Norfolk (1996/97). There are also unconfirmed records from near Lakenheath Warren, west Suffolk (1993/94) and Pashford Poors Fen, a Suffolk Wildlife Trust Reserve (1997). Although recent records are very sparse, the species can occur in reasonable numbers where found. It is widespread throughout north, central and south Europe.
  • In Great Britain, this species is classified as Rare.

Norfolk Status

  • The most recent records are from Bodney Camp (TL847992), part of the Stanford PTA, where several examples were found on a small patch of mature flixweed by the County Recorder in 1996. Young plants were also present along the margins of adjacent arable fields but the beetles were not found on these smaller plants. A few years later, the flixweed supporting the beetles was no longer evident, although a thorough survey was not carried out.
  • There are old records from two other sites in the Brecks: Thetford (1911-1912) and Methwold (1928). It seems very likely that the beetle still occurs at other suitable sites where the foodplant is allowed to develop to maturity for a few consecutive years.

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Current factors causing loss or decline in Norfolk

  • Loss of suitable habitat for the foodplant, flixweed.
  • Limited information on the distribution of both the foodplant and the beetle.

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Current Action in Norfolk

  • The MoD Stanford Training Area is an SSSI and within the Breckland SAC.

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Action Plan Objectives and Targets

National

  • Ensure that all extant populations are maintained in a viable condition.
  • Restore populations to three suitable sites within the historic range by 2010.

Norfolk

  • Maintain populations at all known sites.
  • Increase populations at all known sites by 2010.
  • Establish one new viable population by 2010, through re-introduction at a suitable site in the Stanford Training Area.

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