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Worrying declines in insect numbers

Posted: Tuesday 12th February 2019 by trustadmin

Mining Bee at Braeburn Park credit Matthew RichMining Bee at Braeburn Park credit Matthew Rich

We’re hard working to give much needed space for London’s magnificent diversity of insects; they help to make the city work. But there’s much more to do if we are to reverse their worrying declines.

London Wildlife Trust are working hard to maximise the quality of London’s green spaces for insects by providing hands-on advice to land managers and delivering action on the ground to enhance and protect the capital’s threatened but vital habitats. We are closely closely monitoring populations of insects such as the stag beetle (Lucanus cervus) through our Staggering Gains citizen science programme and dragonflies and damselflies through our Water for Wildlife project funded by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Thames Water.

Water for Wildlife has been successful in encouraging the public to record around 30 species of dragonfly and damselfly found across the city, to build our understanding of their distribution and response to climate change whilst carrying out river restoration and wetland creation to benefit the aquatic insects that rely on them.

At our Centre for Wildlife Gardening in Peckham we have been working for 30 years to give advice and demonstrate ways to make gardens more friendly to all wildlife including insects.

In South Croydon we’ve been restoring the chalk grasslands on our Hutchinson’s Bank nature reserve for the benefit of the small blue butterfly (Cupido minimus) whose population continues to expand and thrive whilst our Great North Wood project has helped to maximise the quality of the remnant fragments of this once huge oak forest for the elusive purple hairstreak butterfly (Neozephyrus quercus).

Things we can all do to help:

Altering the ways we look after our gardens and green spaces can be a huge boost to our insect populations. Often processes carried out in the name of neatness and tidiness can have the biggest impact.

Simple things like resisting the temptation of using a leaf blower to allow self-willed piles of leaves to develop in quiet corners or permitting the grass to grow a little longer through the summer, provides important cover and gives plants the opportunity to fulfil their lifecycle – a process all of our pollinating bees and butterflies rely on. Why not go a little further and create log and rock piles, a bug hotel or maybe even a pond to give somewhere for aquatic invertebrates to thrive?

You can also help by planting native nectar-rich wildflowers to support pollinating insects throughout the spring and summer. These can simply be in pots on your windowsill or a larger scale meadow creation if you have the space.

Meadow_Credit Lianne de Mello

We also encourage anyone who spots wildlife in London to record it – helping us and other conservation groups to know which species live where. You can submit your wildlife sightings to Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL).

This is the capital's official environmental records centre; collating, managing and making available detailed information on London's wildlife, nature reserves, woodlands, parks, gardens and other green spaces.

By becoming a member of London Wildlife Trust you can help us protect and conserve London's diverse insect population. Find out more here.

Image credits: Matthew Rich, Daniel Greenwood, Magnus Andersson, Lianne de Mello.

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