Ten endangered British insects will feature on a new series of Royal Mail postage stamps to be issued on Tuesday. The insects, which range from the stag beetle to the Adonis blue butterfly, and from the red-barbed ant to the hazel pot beetle, have been photographed from the collection in the Natural History Museum in London, which has 28 million specimens.
The stamp set is the second in Royal Mail's Action for Species series, which highlights endangered species in the United Kingdom. The series began in September last year with birds, and next year it moves from fauna to flora for the third instalment, which explores Britain's rare plants.
Julietta Edgar, the Royal Mail's head of special stamps, said: "Most people jump a mile when you talk about insects, but the latest set demonstrates perfectly how important and amazing each insect is, and also how beautiful and delicate they really are."
But Buglife, which launched a High Court action two months ago in an attempt to stop the company destroying rare insect habitat on the Thames estuary, was not impressed. The group failed to stop a Royal Mail project to build a large-scale distribution depot on West Thurrock marshes, which is one of the richest wildlife sites in Britain with more than 1,300 species of invertebrates, birds and plants.
Buglife's director, Matt Shardlow, said: "It is ironic that Royal Mail is releasing bits of paper with pictures of dead insects on, at the same time as they are destroying the homes of 36 types of real live endangered insects on the marshes of the Thames Gateway."