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Six things gardeners can do to make a bug's life better.

ALARMING reports that 40% of insect species could become extinct in a few decades should prompt gardeners to do their bit to alleviate the ensuing crisis.

Without insects, scientists predict a "catastrophic collapse of ecosystems".

"Gardeners can definitely make a difference," says Paul Hetherington, of invertebrate conservation charity, Buglife. "Even on a balcony, you can provide a little oasis for bees and other insects if you plant the right plants."

"Most butterflies and bees are showing a sharp decline," he continues, "so anything you can do for pollinators is going to be useful."

Keen to help? Here's what gardeners can do to help insects survive...

STOP USING PESTICIDES DON'T spray chemicals in your gardens. Very few people are dependent on what they grow. It doesn't take long to get an ecological balance with enough predators to keep the pests under control.

Try to get neighbours to follow suit and then you'll create a much bigger corridor, which will enable different invertebrates to cross over your area and give them their mobility back.

USE PLANTS WHICH ARE INSECT MAGNETS STICK to native plants or hybrids, and buy home-grown plants to keep invasive species out of the garden and countryside.

Wild flowers, such as cow parsley, are a magnet for flying insects, while tall umbels such as Angelica gigas are attractive to hoverflies and wasps, and herbs also have accessible flowers.

Go for single flowers rather than double-flowered varieties, because single flowers are more accessible to pollinating insects.

MAKE YOUR GARDEN FLOWER ALL YEAR WITH milder winters, you often see bees on flowers in the cooler months, so make sure you have a planting scheme which offers flowers all year. Aconites, crocus and snowdrops

can start the year off.

Containers and hanging baskets can also be replenished with seasonal flowering plants at different times of the year. Fruit bushes, such as apple trees, will provide spring blossom, single-flowering cherry trees and strawberries all provide muchneeded nectar for pollinating insects.

GO PEAT-FREE USING peatland to burn for energy and as a growing medium in horticulture releases harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and damages an important ecosystem, so always use alternatives.

MAKE DEADWOOD PILES BEETLES and other beneficial insects live in deadwood, so make deadwood piles at the bottom of your garden, where they can breed. Stag beetles will nest in log piles. Beetles are beneficial because they eat slugs, so are good pest controllers, particularly rove beetles.

And don't be too tidy over winter as insects love to shelter in the debris GIVE INSECTS WATER A BIRDBATH will provide the right depth of water for invertebrates as well as birds. | For more information, visit Buglife.org. uk/activities-for-you/wildlife-gardening.

Flying insects love cow parsley Encourage the right insects to help keep pests at bay double-flowered varieties, because

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Mar 9, 2019
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