Perhaps you are old enough to remember the days of summer driving excursions and the need to clean the windscreen of smooshed insects? Not something we have to stop to do on a long drive anymore. Professor Dave Goulson takes this piece of evidence to demonstrate the severity of the decline in insects in the UK over the last 40 years. This anecdote is bolstered by a study carried out in 2014 showing a decline of overall biomass of insects of 75% over a 26-year period in Germany. Dave goes on to document similar declines in insect life in the UK from other studies, giving reasons why and how the decline may impact the wider environment, including humans – in particular in relation to pollination and food production.
This potentially depressing news is tempered with some practical steps we can all take to help reverse this trend. And if you’re gardening organically, you’re already playing a vital part in the solution. Here’s Dave’s list of how to support insects:
- Grow plants that provide nectar and pollen for insects such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies (recommendations can be found here)
- Grow food-plants for butterflies and moths; nettles, bird’s foot trefoil, lady’s smock, ivy and holly are all good.
- Make or buy a bee hotel – for example simply drill some horizontal 8mm holes in a block of wood and hang it in a sunny place.
- Dig a pond; even a tiny one in a bucket will support insect life.
- Create your own miniature wildflower meadow; leave a patch of lawn to grow, or sow with a wildflower mix, and cut just once per year in late summer.
- Reduce your mowing – allow the dandelions, buttercups, daisies and clovers in your lawn to flower
- Avoid using any pesticides; you do not need them in a garden
- Planting a fruit tree – available in dwarf sizes suitable for tiny gardens, you will provide blossom for pollinators and produce your own zero-food miles, pesticide-free fruit.
- Leave a corner for nature – do nothing!
- Provide a brash pile or log pile
- Build a compost heap and recycle kitchen scraps and weeds; compost heaps teem with insect life
Read the whole article here.
Professor Dave Goulson of Team Pollinate fame has agreed to provide some insights into the recent highlights around insect decline, and the impact of this on our lives. Dave is also author of A Sting in the Tale, A Buzz in the Meadow, Bee Quest, and The Garden Jungle, published July 2019 (pre-order online).