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JCBs dig in to help wasps.

The country's biggest manufacturer of building site diggers is helping an insect in its fight for survival.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and locally-based JCB are working together to help save rare digger wasps in the Midlands from extinction.

The company's classic machines are a distinctive yellow and black and weigh eight tonnes.

The insect diggers share the same colouring, but weigh a mere eight milligrams and are less than an inch long.

Digger wasps and their mining bee cousins can dig one hundred times faster in relative terms than their mechanical namesakes, moving many times their own weight in only a few hours.

But their natural habitat is fast declining. Digger wasps are solitary creatures who use their feet to carve out nests up to half a metre deep in sandy and chalky areas.

They were once common in the South and Midlands, but their heathland habitat is being strangled by vegetation because sheep no longer graze there.

JCB, based at Rocester, is lending machinery to Staffordshire Wildlife Trust to create suitable habitats for the wasps.

Mr Jon Webb, biodiversity officer for the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: "Like all wasps and bees, the diggers pollinate flowers and crops and keep the pest numbers down. We must not allow them to die out."

Mr John Palmer of JCB said: "When we heard about the digger wasps and saw that they carry our corporate colours it was logical for us to help them."
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 2, 1999
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