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Liverpool World Museum first to breed Indian ground beetle in captivity

World Museum in Liverpool is the first place to breed an Indian ground beetle. Nowhere else in the world has successfully bred this species of beetle while it’s been in captivity.

In 1968 the Beatles went to India however in 2009 India sent Liverpool some beetles. In February 2009 the World Museum Bug House acquired eight Indian ground beetles (Anthia sexguttata) with the intention of breeding them, something never successfully achieved by anyone else.

Unfortunately seven of the beetles died leaving only one female left who staff believed wouldn’t survive for very long.

However on 16 August 2010 staff were surprised to see a young adult male in the tank with the female.

It seems the female beetle left had produced eggs which had been burrowed away where museum staff couldn’t see it. Paul Finnegan, education team leader at the Bug House in World Museum believes the secret to their success is the sand/cement substrate he used in the tank. Made of 1 part cement to 10 parts sand Paul got the idea from breeders who use this to make artificial nest sites for kingfishers to lay their eggs. The mixture is designed for invertebrates to burrow and lay their eggs without the walls closing in on them.

As soon as the beetle was spotted Paul emailed London Zoo who confirmed this was the first time the Indian ground beetle had been bred in captivity.

Paul Finnegan says:

“I’m so proud to be part of the team who have successfully bred this species of beetle in captivity. This is really important because we can publish our daily records now, meaning that other breeders now have the information to help them breed this particular species.”

Visitors can see the young beetle in its tank at the Bug House at World Museum. The Bug House is unique in the UK in combining thousands of specimens from the museum’s vast research collection with real live colonies of arthropods in vivariums, including leaf cutter ants and bees.

World Museum has more than one million invertebrate specimens in its collections. There are also a range of interactive displays and larger-than-life models, including a 2 metre animatronic fly and Avril the giant spider, who welcomes visitors from her web on the ceiling.

The Indian ground beetle (Anthia sexguttata) is a beetle of the Family Carabidae. This is a large family, with more than 40,000 species worldwide, approximately 2,000 of which are found in North America and 2,700 in Europe, although this particular species occurs in the drier parts of South Asia.

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