by Rosie Earwaker from Buglife, Back from the Brink’s Shrill Carder Bee Project Officer
Hints of spring are in the air. Bulbs are peeking up through the soil, with plenty of snowdrops, daffodils and crocus already in flower. Sightings of Buff-tailed bumblebees in gardens are more and more frequent as the days grow longer. It won’t be long now until different bumblebee species join them, although we will have to wait a couple more months until the high pitched buzz of our Shrill carder bee returns. It certainly won’t be a silent spring this year, but where will we be in 100 years’ time?
You may have seen the headlines recently about a study predicting that we could lose 41% of the world’s insect species in the next few decades. If the rate of loss continues, this could mean that within a century there will be a very small proportion of insects left on the planet. This is staggering and would be catastrophic to life on earth.
To those of us who study insects, this so called “insectageddon” is sadly nothing new; study upon study has been documenting these declines for years, decades even. However, this recent review paper has gone one step further, bringing all of this research together to really put a spotlight on the challenges we are currently facing. Habitat loss, pesticides and climate change are some of the main factors driving these extinctions. So what can be done?
We need to start taking biodiversity loss more seriously. This isn’t just for the politicians at Westminster and across the globe to action; you can also make a difference. From planting pollinator friendly plants and ditching the slug pellets, to shopping for more local, seasonal produce. Small actions can make a big difference.
Headlines like this highlight the importance of initiatives like Back from the Brink and the work of wildlife conservation organisations such as Buglife helping the “small things that run the planet”. There are plenty of ways to get involved with Back from the Brink, including volunteering opportunities. We are always keen to have more people on the look out for Shrill carder bee and helping to monitor bumblebees through the BeeWalk Scheme, which is vital to our understanding of how these creatures are faring.
Keep an eye out for forthcoming bumblebee identification training courses and lots of exciting surveys over the spring and summer. I start this year with a reinvigorated passion for saving our precious insects and I hope you do too.