'Maid of Kent' Beetle

One of my favourite specimens in the museum is the ‘Maid of Kent’ beetle (Emus hirtus). This is surely one of the most spectacular of all British insects, over an inch long with an attractive pattern of black, white and yellow hairs contrasting with a rich metallic purple underside. It is also an interesting example of mimicry - it gains protection from predators by resembling a bumblebee.

The Maid of Kent is one of the rarest insects in Britain and very few people have been lucky enough to see one in the wild. Once it occurred in many places across Southern England and the museum’s collection contains the very first specimen ever captured in Britain. Sadly, like much of our wildlife, it has not adapted well to an intensively farmed landscape. Feared extinct in the mid 1960s the Maid of Kent was rediscovered in 1997 very near to where I grew up, on the bleak and open landscape of the East Kent Marshes.

James Hogan, Hope Entomological Collections