Tag Archives: insects

Nature: Bumblebees’ ‘clever trick’ fools plants into flowering

BBC News and Daily Mail report scientists have discovered a new behaviour among bumblebees that tricks plants into flowering early. Researchers found that when deprived of pollen, bumblebees will nibble on the leaves of flowerless plants. The damage done seems to fool the plant into flowering, sometimes up to 30 days earlier than normal. Writing in the journal Science, the scientists say they have struggled to replicate the bees’ trick in the laboratory. 

Photo by Jice75 under creative commons.

Moths’ critical role

BBC News reports new research suggests moths play a critical, but overlooked, role in distributing pollen across the UK, which they largely do at night. Their networks are larger and more complex than those involving daytime pollinators. The study found that pollens often sticks to the moths’ hairy bodies during their night time travels. Moths also help pollinate species rarely visited by bees and butterflies.
[Photo of Clifden Nonpareil moth]

Urgent new ‘roadmap to recovery’ could reverse insect apocalypse

THE GUARDIAN reports the world must eradicate pesticide use, prioritise nature-based farming methods and urgently reduce water, light and noise pollution to save plummeting insect populations, according to a new “roadmap to insect recovery” compiled by experts.

The call to action by more than 70 scientists from across the planet advocates immediate action on human stress factors to insects which include habitat loss and fragmentation, the climate crisis, pollution, over-harvesting and invasive species. 

‘Insect apocalypse’ poses risk to all life on Earth, conservationists warn

The GUARDIAN writes report claims 400,000 insect species face extinction amid heavy use of pesticides. The “unnoticed insect apocalypse” should set alarm bells ringing, according to conservationists, who said that without a halt there will be profound consequences for humans and all life on Earth. A new report suggested half of all insects may have been lost since 1970 as a result of the destruction of nature and heavy use of pesticides.

The report said 40% of the 1million known species of insect are facing extinction. The analysis, written by one of the UK’s leading ecologists, has a particular focus on the UK, whose insects are the most studied in the world. It said 23 bee and wasp species have gone extinct in the last century, while the number of pesticide applications has approximately doubled in the last 25 years. 

Photo by zapad1 under creative commons.

Moth populations in steady decline in Britain, study finds

The GUARDIAN reports long-running survey finds 1976 heatwave boom has been followed by dropping numbersMoths are declining in abundance by 10% each decade in Britain but the average weight of moths caught in traps is still double what it was in 1967, according to a new study.

Researchers studying the biomass of moths caught in the world’s longest-running insect survey said their findings suggested that if there had been an “insect armageddon” in Britain, it had occurred before scientific recording began in 1967. 

Huge moth that went ‘extinct’ 50 years ago is back in Britain

The Independent reports a striking blue moth that was thought to have gone extinct in Britain 50 years ago has now recolonised and is breeding, conservationists have revealed. The Clifden nonpareil – whose name means “beyond compare” – is one of the largest and most spectacular moths native to the UK.  

It has a wingspan that can reach almost 12cm and a bright blue stripe across its black hindwings, which gives rise to an alternative name of the blue underwing. These moths have always been rare in the UK. 


Clifden nonpareil photo by Tony Morris under creative commons.

National Trust defends killing wasps in its cafe despite catastrophic insect declines

The Independent reports the National Trust has defended killing pollinators despite catastrophic declines, describing its wasp traps as a “last resort” to keep visitors safe.

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of conservation organisation Buglife, has previously advised the National Trust on this issue and says he gets calls from people “outraged” that public sites are using traps.

He told The Independent that leaving out traps out actually increases the number of wasps.

Photo by zaphad1 under creative commons.

Bees kept for honey are killing wild species by spreading disease

The Independent report nineteen per cent of flowers sampled near domestic beehives had viruses on them. Beekeepers could be fuelling the worrying decline of wild bees, new research suggests.  Wild bumblebees can contract diseases from domestic honeybees if they share the same flowers, according to new US research which suggests domestic beehives should be kept out of areas home to particularly vulnerable pollinators.

Butterfly previously extinct in England bred in forest

The BBC report a butterfly that became extinct in England more than 40 years ago has been bred for the first time in a secret forest location. 

The chequered skipper was always scarce but died out in 1976 due to changes to woodland management. The new offspring are from Belgian adults released in Rockingham Forest, Northamptonshire last year.

Chequered skipper photo by John Flannery under creative commons 

Wild flowers turn the A630 into a bee road

The Times reports a strip of central reservation in an industrial zone in a rugged former mining town is not the first place you’d imagine to find an oasis of nature but that is what Rotherham has managed with a “river of flowers” along eight miles of roads. A blend of cornflowers, poppies, fairy toadflax, marigolds and more have washed an otherwise urban landscape with a spray of colour.

The project has been widely praised on social media, not just for its appearance but also for its help to the ailing bee population, as well as the local authority’s budget, which has saved £23,000 by no longer having to regularly cut back the plant life.