This blog post originally appeared as an article in Cambridge News.
By Rebecca Green, RSPB Community Engagement Officer
Pollinators and their many forms
If you’ve been out exploring the local countryside this summer, you’ll have noticed that it is is abuzz with pollinating insects. While some of us have been lucky enough to relax on our holidays, these hard working invertebrates haven’t stopped!
Cuckoo bumblebee at work at Flatford Wildlife Gardens. Credit: Grahame Madge (RSPB)
Many plants cannot seed and reproduce without insects. It’s a happy relationship: the insect gets nectar in return for transporting pollen from flower to flower. Picture it in your head and you might imagine a bumblebee buzzing around your garden. But bees are not the only pollinators: even flies carry pollen, as do hoverflies. Hoverflies are often overlooked as they are either quite small or mimic bees. The butterflies on your buddleia are doing their bit too, and if you look at the same plant at night, you might see moths. Look even closer at these insects and you will be able to see their long tongue (proboscis) dipping into the flower.
Butterflies are important pollinators too! Credit: Andy Hay (RSPB)
An important job for nature
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the service that pollinators perform for us. They are not just in our gardens helping our flowers reproduce. They are also helping provide us with enough food to eat, and worryingly, their numbers are declining. Without pollinators there would be no strawberries, apples, cherries, peas, tomatoes, pumpkins – or chocolate!
Even the humble hoverfly does its bit for nature. Credit: Andy Hay (RSPB)
Do your bit for pollinators!
Farmers all around the country can help pollinators by providing them with nectar rich flower plots during the spring and summer, and many are, growing beautiful species such as red clover, birds foot trefoil, phacelia and sainfoin.
We can all help too in our own gardens, by planting more flowers, choosing perennials over annuals, letting our grass grow a bit longer and avoiding using pesticides. For more ideas about how to give nature a home in your garden, visit www.rspb.org.uk/homes
Peacock butterflies are particularly appreciative of the buddleia in your garden. Credit: Grahame Madge (RSPB)
Thanks to the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership and Heritage Lottery Fund - the RSPB has been able to take local families out to explore the countryside and farmland to discover the wonderful world of pollinators for themselves. If you’re interested in coming along on one of our bug safaris or similar events, find out more here.
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