How can we prevent the insect apocalypse?
Is there anything we can do at home to try and prevent the insect apocalypse?
Dave Goulson describes what has happened to insect populations over the past few decades, and what you can do to rectify the damage caused...
Dave - The final quarter of Silent Earth, my new book is all about what we can do. in a way it's quite nice because with a lot of environmental issues, you know, people feel pretty helpless and sort of whatever you can do doesn't seem significant. But, because insects live all around us, they're in our gardens and parks and so on. And, most of them haven't gone extinct and if we just look after them better they can recover really quickly; then, actually, it's really nice because people can get involved. They can do things. They can see those things working.
So, the obvious thing, if you're lucky enough to have a garden, is to make that wildlife friendly: plant some bee and butterfly friendly flowers; be more tolerant of what are often called weeds but which are basically native wildflowers; don't spray any pesticides; don't mow your lawn too often, turn it into a wildflower meadow; have a little pond, a bee hotel and so on. And, in no time at all, you've got your own miniature insect haven in your back garden! Literally thousands of species can live in a garden. It's quite incredible.
Then if you haven't got a garden, well, a window box is better than nothing. Grow a bit of marjoram in a pot. At least some bees and butterflies will be happy. Or you can get involved in local campaigns. For example, there's an organisation called Pesticide Action Network that are championing pesticide-free towns. There are lots of local campaigns to do that. In fact, I have a government petition I launched last week urging the government to ban the use of pesticides in towns, which I'd urge anyone to sign if they think that's a good idea.
Also, there are campaigns locally to put more flowers into parks and road verges and roundabouts, and those kinds of things, which I think is a really nice use of what's otherwise rather boring mown space.
Finally think about the sort of big picture of the impact you have when you go to the supermarket. So, if you buy organic food, that reduces the number of pesticides being used; if you buy local seasonal produce, you're generally reducing your impact. Eating less meat reduces your impact. You know, we can all do these little things, and if we all, if enough people did them, then it would really make a big difference.