I’m sure that many of us remember standing in a field when we were younger and feeling overwhelmed by the buzzing of insects. Even if you don’t, you may well have noticed a distinct lack of insect remains on your windscreen after a drive in the dark. Crudely put I know, but there is a good reason for this.
Over the last 25 years there has been a 75% decrease in flying insects in the countryside. Any landscape dominated by agriculture will have noticed the distinct lack of life amongst the crops. This is due to the intensification of agriculture, the use of pesticides and the increase in land value to farmers (mostly due to the dangerously low produce prices dictated by supermarkets.) Once, farmland had hedgerows and wildflower borders, but now as a general rule, this is no longer the case. The farmers just can’t afford the space. Many farmers have no option but to see their land as an asset rather than a piece of nature.
There are things we can do to help though. Becoming attuned to our tiny little friends is an incredibly rewarding thing. Since I’ve become interested in insects my walks have become infinitely more interesting. For example, here is a Cardinal beetle. I found him on an early morning birdwatching walk in Kent.
And here is an incredibly rare caterpillar – he becomes the Heath Fritillary butterfly. I found this one on a walk in Blean Woods near Canterbury.
The RSPB website is an incredible resource – offering advice on everything from how to encourage wildlife to your garden using flowers and grasses, to how to build a ‘bug hotel’ from dead wood.
The National Insect Week website is a brilliant hub of information and has some incredible learning resources. This week there are events being run all over the country designed to educate and encourage people to get involved with the wildlife around them.
It’s amazing what you can find around you – and it’s even more amazing when you know what you’re looking at! Education is a really important way of ensuring that we care for the natural world – once people know what is out there, they’ll really begin to care for it.
Here’s an inspirational video, in case you weren’t quite swayed enough.