Posts Tagged ‘caterpillars’

Helping helpful insects

November 16th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

BlueTit-©-Francis-C.-Franklin--CC-BY-SA-3

We’ve heard so many of reports recently about the decline in insect populations, both pollinators and other insects, that many gardeners are wondering how they can help. Recent news of the decline in bird populations and the populations of other vertebrates is also rather chilling.

Insects are not only vital pollinators for our crops and for wild fruits and for seed-set in wild and garden flowers, but they also provide – not to put too fine a point on it – themselves as food for birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and even other insects. A brood of ten blue tit chicks can get through one thousand caterpillars – per day! [At first, I didn’t believe that either but the British Trust for Ornithology confirms the figure]

But blue tits are also very efficient predators of aphids, and I’ve watched them dealing with infestations on roses and lupins very efficiently, carrying beakfuls off to their chicks.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we plant roses so that blue tits and other birds can feed on their aphids! But the help of gardeners can be crucial in two ways: firstly, by attracting wildlife of all kinds to our gardens through providing food and nest sites, and secondly by planting varieties that insects appreciate. Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking at different ways to help insects and other wildlife.

Of course, protecting natural habitats is crucial and one way of helping with that is to buy friends and relatives memberships of conservation organisations such as local wildlife trusts as Christmas gifts – and to join up yourself.

So that’s a start: your local wildlife trust. And next time I’ll be thinking about insect friendly flowers.