Time to take urgent action for insects

Everyone has their part to play in reversing the disastrous decline in some of our most easily overlooked wildlife.

Insect numbers have plummeted over the past 50 years, including garden favourites like bumblebees and butterflies.

Now, The Wildlife Trusts have launched a new how-to guide, Your Guide to Taking Action for Insects, which will help everyone do their bit in reversing decades of decline for the UK’s struggling bees, butterflies, moths, bugs and beetles.

The Wildlife Trust's Action for Insects guide tells you how you can help insects where you live

The colourful 20-page illustrated guide is packed full of tips, useful info, and links to finding out more, all aimed at helping individuals and families make simple yet crucial changes to helping insects through the ways we shop, garden and run our homes.

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The guide has been authored by The Wildlife Trusts working with partner organisations including Buglife, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and Garden Organic. It has been launched as part of a wider campaign called Action for Insects, which looks to reverse the drastic population declines among insects.

A recent report published as part of the campaign, authored by Professor David Goulson, concluded that 41 per cent of insect species now face extinction around the world, while population declines were widespread across other insect species. The report also highlighted the vital part played by insects in human food production and in their support of countless other birds, mammals and plants.

A pink and green elephant hawkmoth resting on yellow flowers at night

Elephant hawkmoth by Donald Sutherland

Our Chief Executive, Anne Selby, said:

“We know that people love bees, butterflies and ladybirds but we need them to fall in love with all insects, because they are so important to the environment and to us all. The launch of Your Guide to Taking Action for Insects will help people to learn more about these vital creatures.

“The warmer weather of spring combined with the current restrictions placed upon everyone in response to the COVID-19 virus means that people are spending more time in their gardens, yards and on their balconies. This guide provides people with advice on how to make positive changes to help insects, which will not only help the insects but lift people’s spirits too. We’re asking people to make whatever outdoor space they have into a better place for mini-beasts, be it a window box, a garden or an allotment.

“Our guide gives people the inspiration and practical know-how to take a few simple steps to making a big difference to their local wildlife. Insects are one of the key building blocks of life on which we and countless other familiar species - from hedgehogs to garden birds - rely. If we follow the guide’s advice as gardeners, shoppers and homeowners, we can turn the tide on insect declines.”

A burnet moth caterpillar walking down the stem of a plant

Burnet moth caterpillar by Katrina Martin / 2020VISION

Your Guide to Taking Action for Insects recognises that some insects aren’t always popular with the public when it comes to wildlife, and that this is especially true when applied to gardeners. However, it highlights the crucial roles they play in pollinating flowers and crops, controlling pests and natural recycling, plus the beauty and joy that they bring to our lives.

In a range of top tips for helping insects in people’s gardens, it gives guidance on going chemical and peat-free, along with advice on which plants are best at combining colour, scent and attraction to bees and butterflies across the seasons. The guide stresses that all outdoor spaces, whatever their size and location, from tower block balconies to cottage gardens, can make a real difference to restoring insect numbers.

Chief Executive of Garden Organic, James Campbell, said: “Garden Organic is pleased to be supporting the Action for Insects campaign. All gardeners and growers should celebrate insects who are part of the natural chain of life. Organic gardeners also help by creating habitats and shelter, as well as providing plants to feed and support insect life.”

Josie Cohen, Pesticide Action Network UK’s Chief Executive, said: ““Everyone has a role to play in making the world less toxic so insects can flourish. By stopping using pesticides in your home and garden, and supporting businesses working to reduce chemicals in their supply chains, you can contribute towards building a healthier and more sustainable planet for both us and our six-legged friends.”

Take action for insects today

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Scorpion fly by Amy Lewis