Seven things to do to reverse insect decline

6 June 2019

Insect populations are in crisis. A recent review of 73 studies from around the world has shown that 41% of insect species are in decline and a third of species are at risk of extinction. It may seem difficult to tackle on a personal level, but there are seven really simple things we can all do to help halt the declines in our insect populations.

Guest blog contribution from Buglife.

1. Use alternatives, for peat’s sake

Peatland is an ancient habitat, formed over thousands of years. It’s one of the most important global stores of carbon, but exploitation of this peat to burn for energy and as a growing medium in horticulture damages these peatlands and releases harmful carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere. 

By using alternatives to peat in your garden you can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and slow the impact of climate change on our environment.

2. Put away the spray

Over past decades, our reliance on pesticides has increased. These substances, designed to kill insects and other bugs, are often indiscriminate in their action, harming both their target species and others in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet they’re commonplace in our gardens, houses and even on our pets.

By eliminating or reducing our use of these chemicals, we can stop the decline of thousands of insects in an instant.

3. Be less tidy

One of the major factors affecting insect populations is habitat loss and fragmentation. Good quality habitat for insects is being eroded away.

Insects don’t like manicured lawns and while cultivated double-flowered plants look lovely in the garden, they are bad news for pollinators as they typically don’t produce pollen and their nectar is hidden deep inside their flowers.

You can help the insects in your garden by letting the grass grow longer and sowing some wildflowers. If every garden had a little patch for insects, collectively it would probably be the biggest area of wildlife habitat in the world.

4. Watch your footprint

Climate change is a growing threat to a wide range of wildlife, including insects. While this is a big issue that needs big action to tackle it, there’s plenty you can do to make a difference.

Buy your food from local suppliers, use your local shop, or grow your own vegetables. Not only will this reduce your carbon footprint, it will also help small food producers to compete with big food and farming businesses.

You can find out more about how to reduce your carbon footprint here.

5. Watch out for stowaways

Billions of pounds worth of plants and trees are transported around the world every year. They may bring colour to your home and garden, but they can also bring unwanted stowaways.

Non-native species such as flatworms can wreak havoc on native wildlife. In many cases, there’s no need to import plants – local horticulturalists are quite capable of growing plants and selling them to the domestic market.

By buying home-grown plants, you can help prevent invasive species reaching your garden and our countryside.

6. Make space for wildflowers

Create areas of wildflowers ideal for our pollinators. You can do this simply by letting a patch of lawn grow, or by planting up a window box or patio tub.

It’s important to think about providing year round flowering, as climate change means many pollinators are no longer able to hibernate through the winter. Spring bulbs such as crocus and snowdrops can be very beneficial in the winter months. Most herbs also provide great flowers for pollinators as well as a handy source of seasoning for food.

7. Join Buglife

Buglife is the only organisation in Europe that works to save all insects, and your membership donations will be put to the best possible conservation use to prevent extinctions.

Small steps can have a huge impact if they all fall at the same time. We can stop, and reverse the global declines of our insects, but only if everyone pulls together to do their part. By taking these seven actions you can take the first steps to making a difference.

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