Page last updated at 00:44 GMT, Thursday, 4 March 2010

'Extinct' tiny caddisfly found at river in Assynt

Caddisfly next to a five pence coin. Image: David Pryce/Buglife Scotland
The rare caddisfly placed next to a five pence coin

A tiny insect last recorded in Britain in 1881, and thought to have since died out, has been found near a river in Assynt in the north west Highlands.

David Pryce, who has been helping to co-ordinate the Riverfly Recording Schemes project, spotted the pincer-tailed caddisfly - Hydroptila Tigurina.

Conservationists at Buglife Scotland hope the creature will be found at further sites across the country.

The previous recording, over a century ago, was made at Ambleside in Cumbria.

Mr Pryce was undertaking field work in Assynt for his PhD at the University of Stirling.

The invertebrate he found is known as a micro-caddisfly and measures about 3mm. It lives in fast-flowing, stony rivers.

To find a species over a century after it was last recorded is fantastic news
Craig Macadam
Buglife Scotland

Craig Macadam, Buglife's conservation officer for Scotland, said Hydroptila Tigurinawas only found in a handful of countries in Europe.

He said: "Many riverflies have suffered a dramatic decline in numbers in recent years.

"To find a species over a century after it was last recorded is fantastic news.

"This new record represents the first record of this species in Scotland."

The caddisfly joins two other recent record finds of invertebrates in the Highlands.

Last year, a tiny creature no bigger than 1mm in length was confirmed as the first recorded member of its species found in the UK.

Laying eggs

The springtail Bourletiella viridescens was photographed in the Cairngorms by Tim Ransom.

Previously, it was reported in literature as having been found at two sites in north England, but there are no specimens to support this.

Experts identified and confirmed the sighting.

Mr Ransom, an expert in photographing insects, found the springtail at an altitude of 880m on Creagan Dubh in the Cairngorms last August.

Last year also saw a dragonfly found laying eggs in a mountain pond, setting a UK record for the species.

Highland Council's biodiversity officer Jonathan Willet photographed the female common hawker at 830m on Tom a'Choinich, north of Loch Affric - the greatest altitude it has been found in the UK.

The previous highest recorded breeding was at 650m.

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