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The Tansey Beetle – the Jewel of York

Running driver guiding business, most of my client pick-ups are in York. I must drive past this mural of a bright green beetle, three or four times a week, as I turn right at Micklegate Bar and turn down Queen Street towards the railway station and hotels like The Grand, Gray’s Court and The Principal.

Having caught the park and ride bus in for a York walking tour, I had the opportunity to get a bit closer to the mural and take some photos, so decided it was time to explore the background towards why a green bug adorns a wall in York.

It turns out that the green bug is a Tansey Beetle, and Amy-Jane Beer a nature writer co-ordinated its evolution on behalf of an environmental charity called Networks for Nature. Its purpose was to celebrate a nature conference called Time for Nature which was held in York and attended by people such as presenter Chris Packham.

On hearing that the charity were looking for a wall space for the mural, homeowner Daisy Harris offered the side of her house in Queen Street next to York’s medieval city walls and close to the railway station.

Over £3,000 was crowd funded to turn the project into reality. One of the main funders was The Rattle Owl restaurant which was to tie in with a new bar on the premises called The Tansey Beetle.

The artwork was produced by a celebrated Street Artist who goes by the name of ATM, who specialises in huge artworks of endangered species. it is now fondly known as the Jewel of York.

But why a Tansey Beetle?

It turns out that the Tansey Beetle has suffered a serious decline throughout Europe as their ecosystems have been destroyed through development. But, York happens to be one of the species strongholds.

The beetle was apparently close to extinction in the UK, but thrived still on the banks of the River Ouse.

The species recovery can be partly put down to the Tansy Beetle Action Group, and Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust.

They have been responsible for habitat improvements, including the planting of aromatic tansy, a golden flower which the beetles feed upon. The beetles began to thrive so well along the River Ouse that there are now plans to take some and re-introduce them into the Cambridgeshire Fens.

So now knowing the story behind the mural, I will look at it in a new light - as a celebration of the amazing success of local conservation in the historic City of York!


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