By Rose Mason Age 19
Often, if the subject of insects is raised, our instinct is to squirm. Insects don’t have the appeal of little hedgehogs snuggled in the autumn leaves or fox cubs playing in the grass, and yet they are some of the most important creatures in our ecosystem.
I grew up surrounded by insects, from the meadow brown butterflies that fluttered around my garden, to the daddy long legs that skittered across my kitchen ceiling as the weather got colder. Insects have always been there, whether a wonder or a hinderance, they were there regardless. Now it seems that this may change.
There are over 27,000 species (Buglife) of insect in the UK alone, but this number is declining at an alarming rate. Insects are dying out up to eight times faster than larger animals and now 41% of insect species face extinction. This is extremely alarming, and what I find more alarming is the fact that not much has been done about it.
Insects are vital to the very structure of our ecosystem; without insects we simply cannot survive. There is not a part of our natural world that goes by unaffected or untouched by insects.
- They play are essential for pollination, crucial when it comes to reproduction in plants: 87% of our plants are pollinated by insects
- They play a key role in decomposition, breaking down organic matter into healthy and fertile soil. This in turn provides us with flood protection, defence against climate change and food (as we grow our crops in it!)
- Insects are also vital for our animals, making up the base of our food chain. If they are removed our whole ecosystem will collapse
- If we lose insects, we risk our food and wild places too.
Many UK mammals, birds and fish rely solely on insects for food, so by losing these insects we start to starve our wildlife. Already, we’ve seen insect-feeding birds such as the cuckoo and nightingale decline at an alarming rate.
We need to act now. Insects are resilient, but there is only so much they can do to survive without our help. I’m not asking you to welcome all the weird and wonderful insects of the world into your home with open arms, but there are easy, everyday ways to help them out that everybody can do – not only for the insects, but for yourself too.