Hi! I'm Katie and I am a Community Conservation Officer here at Dorset Wildlife Trust.
This month marks the launch of the ‘Get Dorset Buzzing’ campaign which I have been thrilled to be a part of since its inception last year.
We’re asking the people of Dorset to do just one thing for pollinators in their garden - together we hope to get 2,000 gardens buzzing with life!
Pollinators are in steep decline which is bad news for them and even worse news for us. Insects like butterflies, bumblebees, wasps, beetles and moths pollinate not only our garden plants and wildflowers but also food plants such as strawberries, beans and apples. In fact 1 in 3 mouthfuls of food that we eat is a result of the pollination process that insects do completely for free as part of their lifecycle. So, with less of these insects around, there is less pollination happening which then means less fruit and vegetables for us. On top of that many wild and garden plants cannot reproduce without this critical process occurring which then impacts all the insects that rely on them and so on and so forth. It seems like a never ending circle of doom BUT we can all make a difference to the plight of pollinators by creating space for them in our gardens, community spaces, schools, churchyards and more.
By signing up to the Get Dorset Buzzing campaign you’ll be pledging to do something in your space for our declining pollinators. Gardens in Dorset make up an area larger than all of Dorset Wildlife Trusts 45 nature reserves combined- what a huge resource we have at our fingertips! With informed choices we can make these spaces welcome to these troubled insects.
The obvious choice is to plant flowers that are pollinator friendly (nectar and pollen rich) such as wildflowers, shrubs, trees, and herbaceous plants. But there are also other things that you can do to help:
Not using chemicals in the garden – chemicals can indiscriminately kill or negatively impact beneficial insects in your garden such as butterflies and bees. By growing chemical free you can achieve a natural balance in your garden where ‘pests’ are controlled by beneficial insects such as ladybirds eating those pesky aphids!
Using peat free compost – peat comes from peat bog habitat –home to much wildlife including pollinators. By buying peat free you are saving this precious habitat.
Think about caterpillars and what they need to eat as they will ultimately emerge as butterflies and moths who also do plenty of pollination. Nettles, certain grasses, bramble, and ivy amongst others are caterpillar food plants for many different butterfly and moth species – seeing these as a valuable part of your garden habitat rather than ‘weeds’ that need to be pulled up or mown can really make a difference to our pollinators and other insects.
On that note, mowing less frequently and making sure you have put the mower blades up higher will allow grasses and other lawn species such as dandelions, buttercups, daisies and birdsfoot trefoil to flower for longer. These are often seen as weeds to be ‘got rid of’ – but they are actually wildflowers which provide a vital nectar source especially at crucial times of the year such as Spring and Autumn.
Record what you see! Dorset Wildlife trust will be promoting things like the big butterfly count however you can also take part in our ‘species of the month’ which will be focussed on common pollinators that you could see in your garden. This March it’s the dark edged bee fly – these interesting insects feed on nectar from Spring flowers such as violets and primroses they look and sound just like a bee but they are from a different insect family altogether. You can enter your sighting on webpage here.
And remember it doesn’t matter if you have a small patio, a large garden or a windowsill you can still do something for pollinators. And if you don’t have your own space then why not tell your friends and family about the campaign? Or see if you can turn a community space into a pollinator haven? We can all do something to Get Dorset Buzzing -sign up today!