Did you know that insect species are at the highest risk of extinction in the UK?
Insect numbers have declined sharply due to the introduction of intensive agricultural methods and widespread use of chemicals as well as the overall loss of their habitats.
Why it matters
Ecosystems are underpinned by insect functions. Changes in the number and variety of insects are used as indicators of pollution, environmental change, and the health of an ecosystem.
Insects play a vital role in natural processes such as:
- Pollination: they pollinate plants, which is essential for the production of many of our food crops. Without them a large amount of our food source would disappear.
- Decomposition: they help break down and decompose organic matter to create healthy, fertile soil.
- Food cycles: a lot of birds, fish, amphibians and mammals rely on insects as a main food source. Without insects, other animals become endangered.
Across the world we have also used and been inspired by insects in our culture:
- Clothes: silk, which comes from insects (silkworm) can be traced back to 2640 BC. Insects are used to make the dyes for colouring clothes, make up, and even food.
- Science, art, music, literature: insects have provided us with inspiration for technological and biological advancements. Insects in art have been used by many societies throughout history. Nursery rhymes and children's books often feature insects.
- Food: Insects are packed full of protein and vitamins. In many places around the world they are considered a primary source of nutrition for humans. Before you say 'yuck', honey is an insect product that is well loved.
What we are doing to help insects
As part of a wider scheme to provide biodiversity enhancements within the county we've provided 100 insect bricks to schools and businesses catering to children aged 4 to 16 years old. Like our hedgehog project these homes are made from recycled materials. We have also provided locally-sourced compost, seed bombs with insect boosting species, and pots. There's also a set of illustrated educational insect and flowering species activities to support and encourage insects.
Bee-friendly bus shelters
We've installed four bee-friendly bus stops in Hereford. These green bus shelters have living plants on the roofs which provide more insect habitat whilst helping to remove CO2 from the environment.
Things you can do to help insects
Get to know your local insects
Gaining knowledge about the environment and different species is important if we are to know how to help them. Join a Bug or Dragonfly Walk or Get started with Flies! You can also find out more about ladybirds, solitary wasps or woodlice. The Herefordshire Biological Records Centre (HBRC) has resources to help identify local species and holds many exciting events throughout the year led by experts. They are for all age ranges, with a focus on specific species or habitats. The events are free.
Visit HBRC Events page to sign up
- Increase awareness
Insects can often be seen as scary or as a pest at times but they are important to most food chains. Raising awareness for their conservation is important. Why not download our activities and learn more about insects and how to help them?
- Create insect-friendly habitats
Schools across the county have been provided with long lasting eco insect bricks. You can create or purchase your own insect hotel or box to place in your garden. Otherwise a wood pile makes for good habitat for insects (and for hedgehogs).
- Use fewer chemicals
Pesticides can harm invertebrates you aren't trying to target. Use natural pest control methods to manage your garden or allotment.
- Restore and increase insect habitats
Restoring and increasing habitats is key in helping to conserve a lot of different species. Many insects travel around by moving from one source of food to the next. Insect-friendly gardens make it a shorter hop from one meal to the next - and can help to create 'insect pathways' across the country. Find out more about the connected network of the insect environment at Bug Life - and read about their B-Lines initiative.
- An activities pack will be released spring 2023.
Spread the word
Don't forget to take a picture and tag us on Facebook/Twitter/Inst on @hfdscouncil and use #InsectConservation.