Tag: insects

UK Butterflies in decline

A worrying picture of declines in many UK butterfly species seems to have emerged after record numbers of people took part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count, a nation-wide ‘citizen-science’ survey aimed at helping “assess the health of our environment simply by counting the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) we see”. The ‘count’ took place in July and August, with nearly 150,000 observers making 15-minute counts of butterflies in parks, gardens, woods and nature reserves across the country. Despite the high number of observers the survey reported the lowest average number of butterflies per count – 10.66 – since recording began in 2010.

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Monarch Butterflies prefer pesticide-free milkweed

Monarch Butterflies, famed for their long-distance migration, depend on finding the only food their caterpillars feed on: the Milkweed, a wildflower of fields, wetlands, and prairies. Milkweeds are not only the foodplant of Monarch caterpillars, they protect them too. Chemicals within the plant are stored in the caterpillars strikingly bright body which make them distasteful to predators. Researchers have now concluded that Monarchs prefer their larval food to be pesticide-free. As a rhetorical question that asks the absolutely bleeding obvious, ‘Do butterflies prefer not to be poisoned?‘ should be right up there with ‘Is the Pope Catholic?’ and ‘Do bears cr*p in the woods?’…

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NE North America | About 94% of wild bee and native plant species networks lost

A recent report from Toronto’s York University titled “Wild bee declines linked to plant-pollinator network changes and plant species introductions” was published in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity last month. This report was perfectly summarised by EurekaAlert! under the heading “About 94 per cent of wild bee and native plant species networks lost, York study finds”. Their opening sentence is seriously concerning, given all that we now understand about the importance of pollinators and insects in general.

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Understanding UK Insect Decline and Extinctions: A Government Briefing

Hopefully we’ve largely moved past the kneejerk reaction to insects that were common not that long ago – “Ugh” and “Kill it” – and now understand that insects are a critical part of all ecosystems. They are not only beautifully evolved, fascinating animals, but they are – in the words of the charity Buglife – the ‘small things that run the planet‘. They pollinate, break down waste and recycle it, feed a huge number of other insects and a huge number of other animals (from birds and amphibians to fish and mammals). While the rest of life on this planet – as our current lockdown has proved – would get along fine without us, it would quickly fall apart without insects.

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Coul Links development refused

A positive story for a change – and one that may have gone under many people’s radar : a planned ‘luxury’ golf course development on Coul Links, a beautiful, natural coastal dune system to the immediate south of Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve in East Sutherland, Scotland, has been refused. Why, writes Charlie Moores, was the development turned down so late in the day? Could the government in Scotland understand that the public are just fed up with our most precious places being threatened by developments that benefit so few but whose losses are felt by so many…

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