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Insects - where are they?

(33 Posts)
Juliet27 Sat 18-Jun-22 07:07:03

I was walking through fields yesterday of long grasses, poppies, daisies and other wild flowers. It was beautiful but silent…no hum of insects and so few butterflies. It’s such a sad change.

giulia Sat 18-Jun-22 08:02:58

Same here in Central Italy. So few butterflies or bees, yet I cultivate my small garden to attract thm.

Trouble is they do a nighttime disfestation twic a year to eliminate mosquitoes (we do also have the tiger mosquito) and that definitely kills off all the other insects.

Saddest of all, when we first moved out of town in the late nineteeseventies we had the joy of fireflies at night in the early summer. All gone now.

Why is it that flies persist? Grrr!

Georgesgran Sat 18-Jun-22 08:20:32

Still a lot of insects where I live - I’m bitten to bits by midges (I’m not in Scotland) and mozzies. White tailed bees have taken over one of my bird boxes too, so they’re around the garden all day.

Greyduster Sat 18-Jun-22 08:31:11

I’ve seen very few butterflies in the garden this year, but there are bees and other pollinators. When I mow my back lawn I leave a patch of clover for them. We had a walk recently and I have several large irritating bites that attest to the fact that other insects are also available!

H1954 Sat 18-Jun-22 08:32:42

I have the worlds population of ants in my garden - that's sandy soil for you - and my broad beans are home to tiny black beetles which the local ladybirds are greedily feasting on!

There's also lots of bees attracted to the flowers on my peas and beans now that the blackberry blossom has turned to fruit.

I do see the occasional butterfly but as I'm not growing any brassicas this year there's no attraction for the Cabbage White.

Oldnproud Sat 18-Jun-22 08:47:22

I have been quite concerned by the lack of insects.
Back in the 'eighties, and probably the 'nineties too, even a relatively short car journey in the evening would result in a windscreen absolutely covered in splattered insects.

Three or four years ago, it suddenly dawned on me that this is no longer the case - nowadays, the windscreen would still be clear after driving over 100 miles!

This year, however, for the first time, I have noticed an increase. Not a huge one, but an increase nonetheless.

We live in the countryside, and I regularly walk across fields. Some are grazed and some have crops. As well as wider strips around the edges of the fields now being left uncultivated, there are also some much larger areas being left too.

On some of my recent evening walks, I've seen more insects than I had seen for years, which is very promising.
I'm always happy if I see deer, foxes or badgers on my evening walks, but I would never have imagined that I'd be happy to see insects too - but I am. grin

karmalady Sat 18-Jun-22 08:56:39

no cabbage whites in my garden, nor butterflies but plenty of bumble bees. I have made a full insect-friendly garden, no lawn.

Casdon Sat 18-Jun-22 08:59:34

There are millions here still (mid Wales), I often pick my son up from work about 9pm, and you can hear and see their little bodies hitting the windscreen by the hundred (I hate it). Not many butterflies as yet, I think the large numbers are usually later in the summer though?
It probably depends whether you live in an area where there’s lots of cultivated fields where they use chemicals, it’s mainly hills and sheep where I am rather than crops.

Baggs Sat 18-Jun-22 09:04:53

We have had more butterflies than usual this year, especially Orange-tips, which may be partly because I'm letting wild flowers grow and there are lots of cuckoo flowers. I've checked and many of them have the butterfly eggs on them so I'll leave them to get on with what comes next.

We also have about 120 Northern Marsh Orchids in the garden and gazillions of meadow buttercups, which last seem to be beloved by micro-moths. Other insect welcoming flowers we have are pignut in abundance, Heath Bedstraw ditto, with hogweed, whorled caraway and ragwort (which I do limit or it'd take over), sorrel, and more still to flower. Encouragement of native wildflowers is the way to go, I think.

My climbing Albertine rose flowers generally have lots of insects in them and, hate them for the monsters they are, but Rhododendron ponticums really buzz with bumblebees and honey bees.

No cleg bites yet this year but loads of midge bites, though the midge jacket is out now so I'll wear that for protection when gardening. Only about 15 tick bites so far; by this time last year I'd had more than fifty! They aren't insects, I know, but they might as well be biting-wise!!

We've also noticed more splattered insects on the car this year. I hope this is a turn up. Check out #wildflowerhour on a Sunday evening on Twitter. It's great.

Shinamae Sat 18-Jun-22 09:05:51

When I was a child these small wildflowers were always covered in yellow and black caterpillars, not anymore ? cannot find photo at the moment but they were like a small dandelion

Baggs Sat 18-Jun-22 09:08:08

Could they have been a hawkweed or Cat's-ear, shinamae.

Baggs Sat 18-Jun-22 09:08:21


Shinamae Sat 18-Jun-22 09:57:08

Good lord I don’t know at all baggs,I am not at all au fait with most plant life but when I see it again I will take a photo and save this thread and then upload it ?

Shinamae Sat 18-Jun-22 09:58:21

Found it!!

J52 Sat 18-Jun-22 10:06:53

I have taken to planting up every space I can. Even under privet and leyllandi hedging. I put any spent compost from hanging baskets, tubs and potato sack there and plant left over seedlings, divided plants and so seeds of things like Honesty. It’s all a bit of a mixture, but lots of the plants grow and flower.
In the spring I have bulbs and any cheap polyanthus.

DillytheGardener Sat 18-Jun-22 10:07:39

Sadly in my garden teaming with flowers planted to attract bees and butterflies and an insect ‘palace’ son and dil bought, is very quiet, I haven’t seen a butterfly that I can remember. Same goes for the big NT parklands I walk my dogs in. Not much insect life to see there either.

HowVeryDareYou Sat 18-Jun-22 10:09:36

the use of insecticides is largely to blame. Remember years ago, when insects used to be on the windscreen of a car after a long drive? That's why there are fewer birds around too. (A keen bird-watcher told me that recently)

DillytheGardener Sat 18-Jun-22 10:10:39

Has anyone tried planting part of their lawn in meadow flowers, I didn’t do ‘no mow may, but was thinking a pretty area of flowers would be a more palatable compromise to attract insects. No one in my gardening club has tried one so I’m yet to see how to build it into a design for a average back garden.

Baggs Sat 18-Jun-22 10:18:39


Has anyone tried planting part of their lawn in meadow flowers, I didn’t do ‘no mow may, but was thinking a pretty area of flowers would be a more palatable compromise to attract insects. No one in my gardening club has tried one so I’m yet to see how to build it into a design for a average back garden.

That's a good idea, dilly, but please make sure you plant native species. Most "seed bomb" efforts are full of non-native wildflowers. Botanists tend to say they are not a good idea because native insects don't recognise them. That said, Himalayan Balsam, which counts as an invasive non-native, is very popular with bumblebees.

Good luck anyway.

Baggs Sat 18-Jun-22 10:20:06

PS I haven't had to plant anything in my garden. We just let it grow. I think it is a patch of ancient meadow/pasture so the seeds are already there in the soil.

Wildflowers don't need very fertile soil, btw.

DillytheGardener Sat 18-Jun-22 10:24:29

Baggs good point. I was thinking of contacting our local NT gardener who is very friendly and asking what mix he’d advise as I know NT have been ‘re meadowing’ some of their properties.
It’s the design I’m trying to work out, I use my back garden for garden parties, so need spaces that can have our swing chair and sets out, that are mowed but have areas that are more ‘wild’. I haven’t been able to find any examples for humble sized backgardens.
Do you have any pictures of your meadowland? I’d love to see.

Callistemon21 Sat 18-Jun-22 10:38:46

Wildflowers don't need very fertile soil, btw.

I've found some species of wildflower eg fox and cubs, daisy, dandelions will grow if I leave part of our lawn unmowed but the soil is very poor.
Advice from a neighbour was that the prettier wild flowers eg poppies, cornflowers, oxeye daisy, need richer, looser soil as they grow well in ploughed fields.

Oldbat1 Sat 18-Jun-22 11:09:57

The local farmer was in his fields spraying earlier this week. I walk my dog down the public footpath and also on the pavement next to the road and have been so upset at the number of bees Ive seen dead and dying since the spraying. I must admit when I saw him spraying I turned round and went home because I didn’t want to breath in the pesticide.

Baggs Sat 18-Jun-22 12:07:29

Dilly, here are a few bits. The first is of part of the front lawn taken on 25 May. The flowers are daisies and Yellow pimpernel but there are leaves of various other flowers there too, such as wild angelica which flowers later.

The second was taken 1 June and shows pignut in part of the back garden.

Third taken 6 June showing pignut and orange hawkweed, with heath bedstraw beneath them.

Baggs Sat 18-Jun-22 12:13:52

This is a screenshot ofthe part where most of the Northern Marsh Orchids are. It's a sceenshot out of a 10sec video which I don't seem to be able to upload to Gransnet