I recently saw my first bee of the year, tempted out of hibernation by a sunny day. With little food and the temperature set to plummet overnight, I wondered about its fate.
I’ve written about insects before, but every time I read about their steep decline I’m moved to write again.
Insects are critical to the continuance of humankind. Without them, the world will grind to a halt. Eighty-seven percent of plants rely on them for pollination, including most of our crops. They recycle dung, leaves and corpses, keep the soil healthy and control pests. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to farm.
Insects sustain biodiversity. They’re at the bottom of the food chain for so much wildlife – take them away and there’s no food for the birds and beasts that rely on them to survive.
They feed humans too – around 80% of the world’s population. They’re full of protein and far less likely to spread diseases to humans and use minimal land and electricity to produce.
Yet pollution, monocultures, climate change, insecticides and light pollution have brought invertebrate populations to an unprecedented low in most countries in the world. In Britain, climate disruption and intensive farming have caused a 60% decline in flying insects in just 20 years.
What can we do to stop this insect apocalypse? Bug enthusiast and sustainable food expert Vicki Hird’s brilliant book ‘Rebugging the Planet’ has loads of ideas. She suggests starting with a bug plan. Here’s how.
Change people’s attitudes to bugs – share photos or fascinating facts about insects with friends and family.
Create a bug friendly environment – grow native wildflowers, make a log pile, let weeds grow.
Rebug your lifestyle – buy unprocessed fresh food (organic is best for bugs), don’t buy new clothes.
Get political – join and get active with local organisations like the Wildlife Trust or local parks group, or national ones like Buglife or PAN-UK.
Systemic change in how we grow food, live our lives and protect nature. That’s in the gift of governments. But individual actions add up, and every bug saved is a win, however small.