Category Archives: Insects

Solar parks could provide habitats for wildlife

Guardian newspaper report:-

“Solar parks could provide habitats for wildlife – and particularly bumblebees – to flourish, if managed in the right way, benefiting farmers and nature, new research suggests…..

If solar park owners were encouraged to use the land to sow wildflowers alongside the solar panels, they could become valuable habitats for pollinators, research from Lancaster University has found. Managing them in this way would boost bumblebee numbers beyond the borders of the parks, to about 1km (0.6 miles) away, benefiting farmers who rely on bees to pollinate their crops…. “

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/dec/13/solar-parks-could-be-used-to-boost-bumblebee-numbers-study-suggests

Honeybees use social distancing when mites threaten hives

Guardian newspaper report:-

“In the past 18 months humans have become all too familiar with the term “social distancing”. But it turns out we are not the only ones to give our peers a wide berth when our health may be at risk: research suggests honeybees do it too.

By examining videos recorded inside the hives, the team found that when the hive is infested with mites, foraging bees – which tend to be older members of the colony – performed important dances to indicate the direction of food sources, such as the waggle dance, away from the centre of the colony where the young bees, the queen and brood cells are found….”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/29/honeybees-use-social-distancing-when-mites-threaten-hives-study

Why do we need insects?

  1. To pollinate 87% of plants. 75% crops need insect pollination.
  2. Recycle dung, leaves, corpses.
  3. Keep soils healthy.
  4. Control pests, though they can also be pests.
  5. Food for larger animals eg. fish. Crickets are 12 times more efficient than cows in converting vegetation into digestible body mass, produce little or no methane and use 55 times less water.
  6. Insects are in all food chains.

Problems –

German nature reserve studies – over 27 years the insect biomass has dropped by 75%. Forest and grassland had a 40% drop over 10 years.
UK butterflies – over 41 years a 46% drop in common species numbers. 77% drop in rare species numbers.
US studies – 70% drop in insectivorous birds in 20 years.

Source:- Dave Goulson “Silent Earth” 2021

Surveying

We need more data on bees and other insects :-

Bumblebee Conservation Trust
https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/surveys/
An overview of survey opportunities.

BeeWalk
https://www.beewalk.org.uk/
Count bumblebees seen once a month on a 2km walk.

UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (PoMS).
https://www.ceh.ac.uk/our-science/projects/pollinator-monitoring
Count the number of insects visiting a patch of flowers for 10 minutes.
Flower-Insect Timed Count (FIT Count).

iRecord
https://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/enter-casual-record
Record seeing a single species.

iSpot
https://www.ispotnature.org/
Get help identifing a single species.

SEWBReC South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre
http://www.sewbrec.org.uk/
Enter records of species seen in South East Wales.

Wales Biodiversity Partnership
https://www.biodiversitywales.org.uk/Monitoring

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Promote wildlife and have a profitable arable farm

Farmers Weekly 11th Sept 20 has an article about an RSPB owned commercial arable farm.

In 2019, the farm was benchmarked against other local farm businesses and though crops varied in profitability, this was typical compared to the other farms.

!n 2019, the farm went completely insecticide free and saw no reduction in yields compared with previous years, making small savings on the products.

One quote:-
“Though we had aphids in the beans last year, there were loads of ladybirds and larvae too, and within 10 days there were only ladybirds left and the beans didn’t suffer at all,”

The farm is planting wildflower corridors through fields to increase access to beneficial insects, compost spreading and sowing cover crops as part of the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology and Rothamsted Research’s Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems programme.

https://www.fwi.co.uk/news/environment/how-to-make-wildlife-conservation-with-profitable-arable-farming


 

Moths have ‘secret role’ as crucial pollinators

BBC Report:-   “Dr Walton from University College London and colleagues monitored moth activity around ponds in agricultural areas of Norfolk.

They found that 45% of the moths they tested were transporting pollen, which originated from 47 different plant species, including several that were rarely visited by bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

The scientists found that while bumblebees and honeybees are critically important, they tended to target the most prolific nectar and pollen sources. Not so with moths.

“From what we see from our work, moths tend to be generalists, meaning they’re not specifically visiting a narrow group of flowers,” said Dr Walton. … ”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52630991

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0877

Are we witnessing an insect apocalypse?

The New Scientist reports:-

“Are we witnessing an insect apocalypse? It is complicated. The longest running study of insect populations in the world shows that the total mass of moths in Great Britain is double what it was in the 1960s, but has been declining by around 10 per cent a decade since the 1980s. This probably reflects what has happened to other kinds of insects, too. …. ”

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2227154-insect-biomass-in-britain-falling-but-may-still-be-double-1960s-level/#ixzz6Ktbedm2V

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2241413-reports-of-an-insect-apocalypse-are-overblown-but-still-concerning/?utm_source=NSDAY&utm_campaign=2b849f7e58-NSDAY_270420&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1254aaab7a-2b849f7e58-373938547

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6489/417

 

Do a Pollinator Monitoring Survey

“The Pollinator Monitoring and Research Partnership (PMRP) aims to establish how insect pollinator populations are changing across Great Britain.

We are working with existing recording schemes that focus on pollinating insects, and have established new large-scale surveys under the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme banner (PoMS)

PoMS is the only scheme in the world generating systematic data on the abundance of bees, hoverflies and other flower-visiting insects at a national scale (currently across England, Wales and Scotland). Together with long-term occurrence records collated by the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society and Hoverfly Recording Scheme, these data will form an invaluable resource from which to measure trends in pollinator populations and target our conservation efforts.

With reports of dramatic losses of insects occurring across the globe, and concern about what this means for wider biodiversity and ecosystem health, there has never been a more important time to document evidence of change in populations of pollinating insects.

FIT Counts: if you can spare ten minutes to sit and watch insects and flowers you can carry out a FIT Count (Flower-Insect Timed Count)! This simple survey collects data on the total number of insects that visit a particular flower, ideally chosen from our list of 14 target flowers. FIT Counts can be done anywhere, including gardens and parks, in warm, dry weather any time from April to September. If you can carry out several counts at one location during that time you will be adding extra value to your survey records. All the information you need is provided on their web site:”

https://www.ceh.ac.uk/our-science/projects/pollinator-monitoring