We really need insects

Here at Myhills, we are passionate about everything outdoors. We stay up to date with current affairs and make our contributions to the environment where we are able. At present, there are reports that insect numbers are dwindling across the world. Although this does mean less creepy crawlies in your house, it does have a large impact on the ecosystem. But there are things you can do to help.

Researchers have predicted if this insect decline continues at the same rate, they will be extinct in 100 years. Of course, we know it is pesticide use, intensive agriculture and urbanisation that are big contributing factors.

Although you may think that your garden is too small to help, insects do not need much space to thrive. Here are some simple things you can change about the way you garden and what you plant!

The use of pesticides isn’t actually a necessity to grow healthy plants or crops. By planting the correct flowers, you can encourage bugs such as hoverflies, lacewings and ladybirds that will happily eat the troublesome ones such as greenflies and aphids. Instead of reaching for a bottle of chemicals, plant penstemons to attract ladybirds and hoverflies. You can also sow dill, fennel or daisies from mid-spring.

It is known that butterflies and moths are quite vulnerable to extinction because their caterpillars are at the bottom of the food chain. You can attract moths to your garden with scented honeysuckle or jasmine. Moths are also attracted to the tobacco plant nicotiana alata (the only nicotiana with flower tubes short enough for native moths). Buddleia, verbena bonariensis and perennial wallflower erysimis are well-known magnets for butterflies.

Treat your garden to some climbers. Perfect for softening boundaries and providing scent and shelter – insects love them. Ivy is a fantastic option as it naturally climbs so no training needed. Honeysuckle and clematis are good options too.

Similar to last months blog about protecting your garden in the heat, insects rely on dark, damp places all year round. Piled, partially covered dead logs are a haven for beetles, woodlice and other insects, as well as dead leaves and prunings.

People are becoming more aware of how important bees are to our ecosystem. It has been proven that without them we would face rather drastic changes to our environment. Bees tend to like umbel flowers such as ammi majus, orlaya grandiflora and fennel all of which bring grace and delicacy to your garden. They are also highly partial to daisy-like blooms like rudbeckias, ox-eye daisy, asters, helenium and echinaceas, with their joyful dollops of colour. Thyme, oregano, rosemary, lavender, dill and sweet cicely are easy, low-maintenance, provide flowers for pollinators and we get to use them too.

If you have the space for a hedge, even a small one, to break up different areas of the garden then plant one. Hedges make excellent habitats for wildlife, especially insects.

With this information in mind, next time you are about to throw a pile of dead leaves and mulch away, stop and decide if you can move it to a quiet area of your garden instead, to allow the insect world within, to thrive.