Insect decline and what you can do about it

As you might have noticed, more and more news articles and scientific data are being published on the decline of insects. Headlines such as 'The Great Insect Dying' or 'Insect Apocalypse' aren't implying any good news for these crawly creatures. Habitat loss, pollution, climate change and agricultural pesticide use are endangering insects and a decline of their populations has been observed all over the world.

Truth is these often disregarded creatures are crucial components of ecosystems. Within the food web they are food for birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. They also decompose plant material and dead animals; as decomposers they are vital for soil health by playing part in creating the nutrient rich top layer.

The importance of insects to you directly can be found in the food that you eat. As pollinators, bees, flies, wasps, butterflies and even ants play a vital role in the reproduction of flowering plants. In total, 264 crops that we rely on are completely or at least partially dependent on pollination. Bees especially are essential for the production of fruits and many vegetables. 

Around 70% of the world’s most produced crop species rely to some extent on insect pollination.

So we've established that insects are crucial for our survival. At this point you might feel that there is not much an individual can achieve. Luckily there are some great organisations out there trying to protect and survey insects. Below I will list a few of importance, especially in the UK. If you know of any others please add them in the comment section!

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Royal Entomological Society

Butterfly Conservation

Amateur Entomologists’ Society

British Entomological & Natural History Society  

If you have a garden you can provide a variety of plants rich in pollen and nectar. On the Royal Horticulture Society website you can find lists of plants beneficial for pollinators in the UK. Even if you aren’t so keen on gardening, just spreading a few seeds of wildflowers can go a far way in a disturbed area perhaps. Watch the seeds grow over time and marvel at their beauty once they are in bloom. Avoid pesticides and herbicides at all costs; you do not need them, especially not in a home garden environment. Build a bug hotel and leave some dead wood around to provide insect homes. 

Below I've included an all-year-round flowering calendar from a booklet I made that will be available as a pdf-download

Read books and stay informed. New studies are being published constantly; it is relatively simple to read the latest articles on insect biodiversity every now and then. Spread the news and get together with friends or family for a day of DIY bug hotel building or sowing seeds in a community garden.

A few interesting books include: 

-   Pollinator Friendly Gardening: Gardening for Bees, Butterflies, and Other Pollinators by Rhonda Fleming Hayes

-   The Country Diary Book of Creating a Butterfly Garden by E.J.M. Warren

-   The Natural History of Pollination(Collins New Naturalist Library) by Michael Proctor

-   The Complete British Butterflies in Colour by L. Hugh Newman

-   The Wildlife Gardener by Kate Bradbury 

-   Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees by Thor Hanson

-   A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson

-   A Buzz in the Meadow by Dave Goulson

-   The Secret Life of Flies by Erica McAlister 

And lastly make lifestyle changes for the environment. Pollution and climate change directly affect all living beings on earth. Living as environmentally friendly as possible within your budget and life is important. Make small changes bit by bit. Use an eco cup for take out coffee, take your own lunch in a lunch box, get a bamboo toothbrush and dish brush, get a shampoo bar, ride a bike, reduce your car use, buy second hand, buy local, eat plant-based meals, join that community garden, embrace activism! 

There are so many things you can choose to do that aren’t a lot of effort and make a difference to the earth, insects and you. 

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