The Journal of Biological Conservation reported in 2019 that 40% of insects were at immediate risk of extinction. They said that if this were to happen it would have a ‘catastrophic’ effect on the planet. see Insect Armageddon page
There are 4 reasons why insects are on a massive decline:
- Pesticides, pollution
- habitat loss
- disease and non native species
- climate change
So what can YOU do in your own garden to help?
1 – Pesticides. We’ve been using pesticides more and more every decade. So much so that in the USA they had to increase the official ‘safe’ limit of RoundUp in drinking water as there was so much contamination! Pesticides are indiscriminate in what they kill. You may be wanting to stop herd of aggressive black fly ruining your pretty flowers but when you spray the pesticides on your garden it is effecting all the insects in that garden (and adding to the pollution in the water table). Instead of pesticides try using complementary planting instead – this is where one plant help protects another plant when it is planted next to or near it. Companion plants assist in the growth of others by attracting beneficial insects, repelling pests or providing nutrients, shade, or support. Check out this list for companion planting ideas: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companion_plants
Be careful when buying plants and flowers from garden centers – often they have already been sprayed with pesticides that kill bees and insects so you may actually be doing more harm by buying them!
Dave Goulson, the Professor of Biology at Sussex University, and his team have tested the ‘bee-friendly’ plants that are sold in garden centres all over England and found that virtually all of the plants they looked at were full of high levels of neonicotinoids, which are the insecticides notorious for killing bees.
Apparently, when this was revealed B&Q stopped doing it but Wyevale and Homebase still do it, so when we go there to buy plants for our gardens especially to help pollinators we are helping to weaken them. http://www.pan-uk.org/pesticides-found-in-bee-friendly-plants/
2 – Avoid Peat. Peat is an ancient and important habitat that has formed over 1000’s of years. It is also an important store of Carbon. Avoid buying compost and garden products that contain peat. Most compost bags will say PEAT FREE on the front if it is so they are easy to spot. Check out this Which Report for more info on Peat.
3 – Go Natural / Be Messy. Insects don’t like a perfectly manicured lawn (don’t even get me started on plastic astroturf – why do people use plastic grass just because they can’t be bothered to mow a lawn?!?). A perfect grass lawn is a real monoculture that few animals like. Also don’t pave over paradise for the sake of a driveway, a patio or a lawn. Get planting instead. Let grass grow longer, plant native wild flowers and plants and leave a pile of wood, twigs and leaves somewhere for nature to do it’s own thing.
4 – Avoid Imported Plants. Imported plants, as well as not being native to your country and therefore are less likely to naturally support local wildlife often carry with them imported bugs. Imported bugs can easily be an invasive species and it doesn’t take much for an invasive species to take over. Imported plants aren’t easy to spot so make sure you ask.