The Royal Entomological Society’s National Insect Week is a biennial initiative which aims to focus attention on the science, natural history and conservation of insects.
Regenerative farmers work with nature, not against it, providing habitats and managing the land in ways that support and encourage a complex variety of insect life.
Insects play a vital role here at FarmED, as pollinators, as predators in a well balanced ecosystem and for improving soil health. While the bees, wasps, moths, butterflies and true flies are pollinating our crops and the trees in our heritage orchard, dung beetles are burying and consuming livestock faeces, improving nutrient recycling and our soil structure. Ecosystem services in action!
As part of our new Countryside Stewardship agreement we’ve created extensive flower rich margins and plots providing important habitats and foraging sites for insects. The wild carrot is a particular favourite for hoverflies. We are also committed to growing open-structured cereal crops and diverse wild bird covers to provide additional summer foraging sites and habitat for bees and other beneficials. We avoid the use of insecticides.
We have thirteen hectares of permanent grassland on the farm. We aim to create a varied sward structure throughout the season and leave some areas uncut for overwintering bug life.
Kaleidoscopes of butterflies flitter round the fields of FarmED, including Common Blues, Gatekeepers, Tortoiseshells and Marbled Whites, which seem to love the lesser knapweed and field scabious in our margins.
Dragonflies and damselflies are also attracted to the wetland and pond areas we’ve created as part of our natural flood management scheme. The speed and beauty of the hawkers, chasers, darters, skimmers and emeralds never fail to impress.
Our hedges, trees, scrubby areas and deadwood are very important insect habitats, supplying food, shelter and breeding sites. According to BugLife, over 1500 insects have been recorded living or feeding in hedgerows. Bumble bees use hedgerows to guide their foraging activity while stag beetles shelter in the decaying stumps at the base of a hedge. Butterflies use species-rich hedgerows for nectar, shelter, breeding, basking, or as transport corridors from other habitats, with continuous hedges creating a network of shade and shelter.
The team at FarmED are working with local farmers to map key insect habitats and to explore how we can link and improve them. More on this soon as the project develops.