We’re Facing An Insect Apocalypse: Here’s How You Can Help The Bugs

Intensive agriculture and heavy pesticide use are a major cause of plummeting insect populations, according to the first global review recently revealed by the Guardian.

Whilst fewer creepy crawlies might seem like a great idea when you’re trying to enjoy a picnic with twenty seven wasps, in reality the decline of insects threatens a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, because of their fundamental importance in the food chain, pollination and soil health.

So what can we do to help?

There are a number of ways we can help to protect insect populations from systemic collapse; from the food that we choose to eat, to the way we enjoy our gardens.

1. Eat more organically-farmed food

Non-organic food production uses plenty of pesticides – which as well as damaging insect populations – can also pollute water and make their way into our food chain. Almost three-hundred pesticides can be routinely used in non-organic farming. Alarmingly, government testing in 2017 found pesticide residues in 47% of British food.

Organic farming standards, on the other hand, don’t allow any synthetic pesticides and absolutely no herbicides (such as Glyphosate, exposure to which increases the risk of developing cancer). Organic farms are only permitted to use 20 pesticides derived from natural ingredients, and only under restricted circumstances.

Research suggests that if all UK farming was organic, pesticide use would drop by 98%.

Where to buy organic food: Look for the organic label when buying fruit, veg, meat and dairy products at the supermarket. I get a fortnightly, seasonal veg box delivered by Riverford, but if you’re keen to use a more local supplier, Blaencamel Farm also offer deliveries. They also sell their organic veg at the Riverside and Roath farmers markets every weekend.

2. Make your garden more bug-friendly

If you’re hoping to attract more mini-beasts to your garden, the first step is to make it a chemical-free zone, ditching pesticide, fungicide or anything else designed to keep bugs at bay.

But what about the habitat? Flowers, ponds, flowering shrubs, trees, climbers, compost heaps and undisturbed wild areas are all very welcome a bug-friendly garden. Piles of logs, rocks, and leaves are also great – which is perfect for lazy gardeners like me.

Even if you only have a tiny space, you can still make it more bug-friendly by getting a window box or plant pots, filled with a variety of herbs and flowers.

Where to find out more: The Bug Life website has a wealth of info on making your garden more attractive and hospitable to a variety of invertebrates:

www.buglife.org.uk/activities-for-you/wildlife-gardening

3. Lobby your local MPs

It isn’t just agriculture and pesticide use damaging insect life. Parks, green spaces and wild habitats all over Wales are all under attack, increasing the pressure. Budget cuts are causing councils to sew lawns over flowerbeds and cut down trees that would require ongoing management. Meanwhile, the planned M4 relief road route threatens to carve up ancient woodlands and the Gwent Levels, disrupting a whole ecosystem of unique wildlife.

We need to persuade decision-makers to re-think their approach to budget cuts and economic development, and put concern for Wales’ wildlife at the top of the agenda.

How to take action: Sign up to newsletters from bodies like Woodland Trust in Wales, RSPB Cymru and the Campaign Against the Levels Motorway, and get involved in petitioning policy makers and local MPs. Help them demand that the Welsh Government takes more action to stick to the ambitions, permissions and legal obligations they committed to with the Future Generations Wellbeing Act in 2015.

In your local area, find out who the warden is in your nearest park. See if you can arrange for the planting of a wildflower bed, or for an area to be left un-mown to help bees and other wildlife to thrive. I’m in the process of trying to arrange this for Victoria Park, where £500k could be found for a revamped kids play area in 2016, but flower beds are being removed this year due to cuts.

Not on my watch! 😉

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2 Comments

  1. February 18, 2019 / 11:02 am

    I knew that bugs and bees were struggling, but that Guardian article was a real wake-up call. Thanks for sharing the link for that. I also really like your recommendations. I already eat mostly vegan, but I can definitely do more with the other two action points (even when I only have a little balcony). I will definitely start doing my bit more!

    • HungryCityHippy
      Author
      February 18, 2019 / 11:18 am

      Ah thanks Lizzie, that’s great to hear. It can feel so depressing when we hear this bad news and I find that sharing practical tips helps me feel less desperate, as I know many people who want to help! xx

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