Many plants rely on insects to pollinate their flowers and so complete their reproductive cycle – most plants cannot set seed without being pollinated (receiving the pollen, usually from another flower). Without bees, hoverflies and other insects visiting flowers, there would be no strawberries, apples, avocados, chocolate, cherries, olives, blueberries, carrots, grapes, pumpkins, pears, cotton, plums or peanuts…. And very few flowers in our gardens and countryside.
It is estimated that 84% of EU crops (valued at £12.6 billion) and 80% of wildflowers rely on insect pollination.
Yet pollinators have traditionally been ignored as we have always taken it for granted that they would be there to carry out their free services to mankind. Now it is becoming apparent that if current trends continue, we may not have enough wild pollinators for all the crops our growing population requires. That is a truly frightening prospect.
Wild pollinators include bumblebees and other bees (250 species), butterflies and moths (2200 species), flies (6700) and various other insects such as beetles, wasps and thrips.
Pollinators in trouble
Pollinators face a perfect storm of problems:
Imagine living in a desert with barely any food, water or shelter. That is what much of the modern British countryside is now like for many wild pollinators.
What can you do to help?