Hampshire has one of the largest populations of insects in the whole of the UK thanks to our warm climate and the amazing range of habitats, from coastal marsh to lowland heathland and the Downs to the north through to the forest oak trees.

And yet our insects are in serious trouble. So what can we do and why should we be concerned?

There are over 27,000 insect species across the UK; and perhaps 60% or more are found in the south of England.

Of those an incredible 9,000 are species of wasp; or which just 250 have the potential to sting.

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There are 3,000 species of moth and an amazing 270 species of bee, 250 of which don’t live in hives, but are solitary- living by themselves under rocks, in walls or in the soil.

We may not love all our insects, but they perform incredibly important roles for our fruit, flowering plants and vegetables.

Take Hampshire’s orchards as an example. The county is nationally important for its fruit growing.

But behind every successful famer who has planted an apple or plum orchard is a healthy and vibrant population of insects.

It is not just the familiar species like honey bee and common wasp that are responsible for pollinating the flowers of fruiting trees and bushes-but a huge range of other species such as butterflies and moths.

Romsey Advertiser: A common blue butterflyA common blue butterfly

Some of which are specialised to only pollinate specific plants.

But our UK insect population continues to decline rapidly.

We have lost perhaps 40% in terms of abundance since the 1960’s. Initially the big culprits were changing agriculture and pollution.

The impacts from the increased use of pesticides and herbicides was catastrophic.

Many insects were unnecessarily killed to protect crop yields and herbicides destroyed the food sources, starving many insects to death.

In the last 15 years unsuitable and unimaginative large-scale property developments in the county and also council’s determination to mow every bit of grass to about in inch high have been two of the major contributors.

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So what can we do? Insects play a huge part in the food production cycle of Hampshire-so let’s all agree to take the following actions:

1) Build a bug box (or buy one)…these can provide homes for solitary insects as well as shelter in stormy conditions for migrant species

2) Plant native flowers and shrubs that provide large amounts of nectar for bees……English bluebells, blackberry bushes, hawthorn, lavender, buddleia…..there are many plants that insects love readily available

Romsey Advertiser: Bluebells will soon flourish again in Runcorn's woodlands

3) Leave patches of long grass during the spring and summer so insects have a place to breed and hide

4) Dig a small pond as they can be excellent for anything that flies

5) Write to your local council or MP and encourage them to plant more wildflowers and leave grass verges uncut

Hopefully if we all take action for nature we can turn the fortunes around for Hampshire’s incredible insects!