Insects are in decline: Why we need bugs in our life, and 5 things we can do to encourage them – NewsChain

insects-are-in-decline:-why-we-need-bugs-in-our-life,-and-5-things-we-can-do-to-encourage-them-–-newschain

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New research indicates there has been a ‘terrifying’ drop in the number of flying insects.A citizen science project led by Kent Wildlife Trust and Buglife asking people to count squashed bugs on their car number plates suggests insects have declined by 59% in 17 years across the UK.Known as the “windscreen phenomenon”, drivers have given anecdotal evidence that they collect fewer moths, flies, aphids, bees and flying beetles on their windscreens than they did in the past.Before making an essential journey in their vehicle, drivers cleaned their number plate, and afterwards counted the insects squashed on it using a “splatometer grid” supplied as part of the survey.They then submitted a photo and count details via the Bugs Matter app, and the data was converted into “splats per mile” to make it comparable between journeys. The number of insects sampled on vehicle number plates fell by 59% between 2004 and 2021, the survey found.Paul Hadaway, director of conservation at Kent Wildlife Trust, said the decline in insects reflected the enormous threats to and loss of wildlife more broadly across the country.“These declines are happening at an alarming rate and without concerted action to address them we face a stark future,” he warned. “Insects and pollinators are fundamental to the health of our environment and rural economies. We need action for all our wildlife now by creating more and bigger areas of habitats, providing corridors through the landscape for wildlife and allowing nature space to recover.”Bugs are crucial to a healthy functioning environment, pollinating most of the world’s crops, performing natural pest control, breaking down organic matter and returning nutrients into the soil, conservationists said.These are five ways to encourage insects at home…1. Let your grass growRewilding your garden will help boost biodiversity. Richard Bunting, who works with Rewilding Britain and the rewilding charity Trees for Life (treesforlife.org.uk), recommends leaving areas of grass in your garden to grow long or, if your garden’s big enough, creating an area of wildflower meadow. This will need cutting just once a year – providing a sequence of flowers and seed heads that will change weekly.“Leaving weeds to grow in a wild corner will attract interesting bugs,” he adds. “Dandelions, for example, can support over 50 species of insect.”Dandelions could help boost bugs in your garden (Alamy/PA)2. Ditch the poisonOne reason behind the huge loss of insects in our countryside is the increasing use of pesticides and herbicides – not only on farmland but also in gardens, says Bunting, who suggests swapping fertilisers for an organic seaweed feed.3. Embrace messDead branches, piles of leaves, logs and rocks can provide a habitat for insects and hedgehogs, or food for beetle larvae. “Decay is part of the natural cycle of returning nutrients to the ground,” Bunting points out. “A compost heap will also provide home to all manner of creatures.”4. Make a homemade seed bombDuring the cooler months, gardeners can make sure pollinating insects are welcomed in the spring by preparing homemade seed bombs and scattering them about. These are small balls of compost, clay and seeds – a magnet for pollinators, they will give your garden a dazzling display of colour in spring and summer.5. Plant with nature in mind“To encourage wildlife, select plants that provide all-round nectar, pollen, seeds and berries,” says Bunting. He suggests trying pollinator-friendly clover, lavender and snowdrops, encouraging ivy and tolerating nettles – they are where butterflies lay eggs. Evergreen plants such as holly will provide shelter for invertebrates in winter months, he says, adding: “Ditch cheap supermarket perennials as they can be full of chemicals.”To take part in the Bugs Matter survey this summer people can visit: buglife.org.uk/get-involved/surveys/bugs-matterThe best videos delivered dailyWatch the stories that matter, right from your inboxGardeningInsectsPA
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