Keynsham Voice June column: Tiny creatures with a huge roll to play

Spring has been glorious this year, with an abundance of blossom. Bees and butterflies, eager to make the most of this bonanza, are busily flying from garden to garden. Hoverflies, ladybirds and a riot of other insects are all getting in on the act.

In May, scientists published an assessment of all life on earth. It’s fascinating, and sobering. The study found that plants account for 82% of all biomass (the total weight of a species) on the planet – that’s 7,500 times more than us. And there are 17 times more insects than people (in weight).

Shockingly, it revealed that humans represent 0.01% of life on the planet but are responsible for the loss of 83% of wild mammals and 50% of all plants.

Another study showed that climate change will cause a major wipe-out of insects, compounding the severe losses we’re already seeing. Insects – whether we like them or not! – are the life blood of this planet. They’re vital for our food supply. Without them our ability to inhabit this planet would be severely restricted, if not impossible.

There are lots of things that can, and should, be done to protect insects. Some of them are the government’s responsibility, such as restricting use of pesticides, restoring our soil’s health, protecting hedgerows etc.

But there are things we can do at home too. Leave a patch of longer grass that insects and bugs can hide in. Have a wildflower patch – you can even grow some in pots on the balcony if you don’t have a garden.

Support pesticide free farming by buying organic fruit and vegetables (even just one swap would make a difference).

And when you buy flowers, try and source UK grown blooms. There are online florists doing this, e.g. Wiggly Wigglers and Organic Blooms. There’s also our very own flower shop on the High Street, Stone Roses, which sources local flowers from Upton Cheyney.

We can all do our bit to support these vital and under-appreciated creatures.

Published in Keynsham Voice, June 2018,

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