Page last updated at 13:06 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 14:06 UK

Rare insect found safe on beach

Scaly cricket. Pic courtesy National Trust
The scaly cricket was tempted by a Cornish pasty

One of the UK's rarest insects has been found after going missing on a Devon beach where debris from the grounded cargo ship MSC Napoli was washed up.

Branscombe beach was littered with the ship's containers and their contents after it was beached in January 2007.

The National Trust was concerned for the survival of the scaly cricket, which is found at only three UK sites.

However, the trust has rediscovered the cricket - using bait including a Cornish pasty to tempt it into traps.

National Trust property manager for Dartmoor, Adrian Colston, had drawn a blank after walking along the shingle beach trying to find the cricket.

So he changed his tactics and set five traps using cat biscuits, pieces of apple and bits of a Cornish pasty as bait.

MSC Napoli: Pic Roger Sharp
The MSC Napoli was beached off the Devon coast in January 2007

When he returned he was delighted to find that one of the traps contained a single adult female scaly cricket.

"This rediscovery has come as a real relief and it is likely a healthy population of scaly crickets can still be found on Branscombe beach," he said.

"They are notoriously difficult to find and their location away from the main site of the Napoli activity certainly helped increase the likelihood that they would survive."

Normally found in the Mediterranean, the scaly cricket was first discovered at Branscombe in 1998.

The nocturnal insect measures between 8mm (0.3in) and 13mm (0.5in) and feeds on general waste. It is also found at Chesil beach in Dorset and Marloe Sands in Pembrokeshire.

The 62,000-tonne Napoli was deliberately grounded after being holed by storms off the Lizard. Its crew of 26 was rescued by Royal Navy helicopters.

Thousands of scavengers swarmed to the beach when 50 of its containers were washed ashore.


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