Beetles, butterflies and moths in the UK are all under threat and plummeting populations could affect the natural ecosystem, according to a new study.
More than 40% of insect species worldwide are in decline and a third are endangered, according to a report from the Biological Conservation journal.
Urbanisation, intensive agriculture and the use of pesticides, and climate change are to blame, said the report’s authors – who warned that the decline of insects could lead to a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s eco-system”.
If that all sounds a bit terrifying, there are things you can do at home to help.
How To Help Butterflies And Moths
Three quarters of the UK’s butterfly species and two thirds of the UK’s common and widespread moths have declined in the last 40 years, according to the charity Butterfly Conservation.
“There are steps we can all take to try and halt these alarming declines,” Liam Creedon, from the charity, says. “The UK’s 24 million gardens can act as important refuges for butterflies, moths and other pollinating insects. If you have space, leaving a patch of your garden to grow wild [by letting things like grass, weeds and flowers grow freely] will provide butterflies and moths with places to shelter and lay eggs.”
Creedon recommends ditching insecticides and pesticides and planting lavender, oregano and mint plants, which are a good source of nectar for insects. Planting spring, summer and autumn flowers will also give butterflies and moths a year-round energy supply – choose a sunny spot though, as they like the warmth.
How To Help Beetles
One major problem facing stag beetles is a lack of rotting wood to lay their eggs near and for their young larvae to feed on, according to the People’s Trust For Endangered Species. If you have access to outdoor space, you can help by setting up a pile of logs. Part digging the logs into an area of soil will help keep it damp and help it rot, conservation officer Laura Bower tells HuffPost UK.
Keeping your garden “wild and untidy if you can” can also help create a diverse habitat for stag beetles and other species, too.
Paul Hetherington, from the conservation charity Bug Life, says beetles are also experiencing a reduction in their natural habitat.
He tells HuffPost UK “beetle banks” are a great way to create a habitat at home – this involves creating a mound in your garden, around 12-18 inches high, from soil, sand and even gravel for them to bury into.
Allowing wild flowers to grow on top can make it an attractive feeding ground and habitat for other insect species, too.