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Why insect declines should bug you and what you can do to help

Last week, our friends at the Wildlife Trusts released a report on insect declines.

The findings are alarming: 41% of known insect species face extinction, with insects dying out up to eight times faster than larger animals.

Scientists have suspected for some time that insects are declining. Yet it is only recently that they have been able to confirm these trends.

In Germany, a study found that the weight of insects caught by scientists each day fell by 76% between 1989 and 2014. We don’t have as much long term data for UK insects so we can’t be sure that the same level of decline is happening here. But the data we do have shows that species are found in fewer locations and in lower numbers than before.

This is bad news, because insects are essential. They provide food for animals, control pests, and pollinate about three-quarters of our crops. There is a reason why the biologist E.O. Wilson once called insects ‘the little things that run the world’!

It is clear that we cannot wait any longer to take action to stop this decline.

What can I do to help?

Insect decline is likely caused by habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change.

With such large-scale causes, it can seem like there’s nothing we as individuals can do to help insects. But if we all work together, we can reverse this trend. As Sir David Attenborough says in the report “every space in Britain must be used to help wildlife”. What better place to start than in the 430,000 hectares of gardens across the UK?

Our project Naturehood has plenty of tips of things your can do in your space to help insects:

  • Leave your leaves, pile up logs and start composting - they will provide a habitat for spiders and woodlice, and shelter moths and butterflies in winter.
  • Put away the pesticides – there are plenty of alternatives to pesticides to keep ‘weeds’ and ‘pests’ under control.
  • Plant trees and shrubs – these not only give shelter, their blossom provides food to pollinating insects. See our advice on some of the best species to plant.
  • Plant flowers for pollinators – when it comes to flowers the more the merrier! Follow our advice on which ones to choose to provide nectar and pollen.
  • Plant flowers in your lawn – mow your lawn less and embrace ‘weeds’ such as dandelions that are great for pollinators.
  • Pull up your paving – change hard surfaces to green spaces to create more room for wildlife.
  • Make a pond – follow our step-by-guide to make a pond. See how quickly it attracts dragonflies, beetles and pond skaters! If you have limited space, this can even be a small container. 

Sign up to Naturehood to find out more about what you can do for wildlife. Make sure to tell us about what you’ve done so we can track the change.

Remember to encourage your friends and neighbours to do the same. If everybody does just #OneThingForWildlife the impact for insects will be huge!

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