Mini beasts – You either love them or you hate them!
Personally, I love them. They are so, so important to our world, many of us don’t realise that those little buzzy things that most people would swat away, quite literally hold our existence in their tiny wings!
Over the past 50 years there has been a rapid decline in British insect life. Many of these are important pollinators that visit our gardens.
Pollination is the process where pollen is transferred from one flower to another allowing fertilisation to occur providing the plant with fruit or seeds. Some plants are pollinated by wind but most need pollinating insects to visit.
Flowers attract insects by providing them with two sources of food – pollen and nectar. Pollen contain proteins and oils while nectar contains sugars and provides insects with a vital energy source.
Pollen and nectar provide a complete diet both for adult Bees and their larvae. Other insects, such as Flies, Beetles, Wasps, Bugs, Butterflies and Moths also visit flowers to feed on pollen and nectar. Some predatory insects also visit flowers to feed on other insects, making them an important biological control. All are pollinators, picking up pollen on their bodies and carrying this to other flowers.
Most fruits and a lot of vegetables need to be pollinated by insects making these little mini beasts an important part of our biodiversity. Over a third of our food crops are pollinated by insects and 90% of our wild plants simply exist thanks to these magnificent little creatures!
A decline in these wonderful little bugs can also be an early warning sign of a threat to other species of animal. The knock-on effect I suppose, for many of our animal species are that their diets are made up of these insects, Birds, Bats and Fish all feed off these mini critters. Insects are indeed at the bottom of the food chain and without them we would see a collapse of various ecosystems, which I am sure would have devastating consequences for us all!
There are many reasons for this rapid decline but one is thought to be the lack of wildflowers growing in the countryside. Our gardens are also very important places for these beasties to visit. One thing we can do to help is by growing more flowers.
At Thorp Perrow we have designated areas specifically for these all-important wildflowers to grow. There is an area for Spring and those early pollinators and areas for Summer for species that pollinate later on in the season. We even leave some weeds to grow in peace for those insects that prefer the more weedy type of plant!
One area that has become a real haven for wildlife is The Mound. This area has been specifically planted with insect loving plants that come to life later in the season, the centre of the mound sees a small wildflower meadow. This is one area I recommend visiting if you want to spot Bee’s, Dragonflies, Damselflies and Butterflies!
Many of you may have taken part in the Big Butterfly Count that has been running this summer. The Butterfly Conservation set this count up in 2010 and a huge amount of people have contributed and almost 400,000 Butterflies and Moths have been spotted and recorded to date! It’s simple and fun to do, encourages being outdoors and is something all the family can take part in. All you need to do is download an identification chart, spend some time outdoors and record your findings online here www.bigbutterflycount.org.
Why not visit us and see just how many of these wonderful winged beauties you can spot!
At Thorp Perrow we think all wildlife is important and want to do our bit to educate and encourage the children – the future of our important insect world – to take notice and recognise. Throughout the Summer holidays, running until September 3rd we have a Wonderful Woodland Wildlife trail. Follow the trail and learn all about our wicked wildlife and receive a wildlife encouraging prize at the end! Trail costs £1 plus entry.
– Faith Douglas, Curator
Photo credit: all Thorp Perrow