The Wildlife Trusts and RHS ask gardeners to help beetles after topsy turvy weather this spring
Early June is considered by some entomologists – or insect experts – to be ‘peak beetle’ season across the UK, when many species are out in force looking for a mate. Stag beetles are a classic example, with males locking their jaws and wrestling each other over mating sites.
However, conservationists fear that topsy turvy weather in the spring – including an exceptionally cold April followed by a deluge of rain in May – could have had a detrimental impact on beetle populations this year.
In response, the 2021 Wild About Gardens campaign is calling on gardeners to support beetles by:
Recording the different kinds found in their garden using iNaturalist – a popular nature app which helps people identify and record wildlife using their phone.
Creating beetle banks in their garden, and planting species such as hawthorn, dogwood, and hogweed, and herbs including angelica, fennel, and chervil.
Entomologist Ben Keywood, of Sheffield Wildlife Trust, says: “There is growing evidence that the cold spring has affected this year’s beetles. Ladybird numbers, in particular, seem very low, which is probably due to the cold weather in April wiping out their prey – especially aphids. Many insects will have been flooded-out or washed-off their foodplants in May’s torrential rain. Wet weather also increases the chances of fungal infection which can be problematic for beetles, as well as caterpillars of butterflies and moths. Insects are hugely adaptable, so let’s hope populations can recover with the warmer weather this month.”
Helen Bostock, senior horticultural advisor at the RHS, says: “At last the warmer weather has meant gardeners can get out into their gardens. Plants are growing at speed and wildlife is really starting to get active too. The wet May means you’re more likely to see ‘Maybugs’ or cockchafers in June instead this year! Anyone who has been leaving a patch of grass to grow long can now expect to see weevils and beetles on flowering daisies and buttercups and, if they’re really lucky, a glow worm or two among the grass. There’s still time to stop mowing a section of lawn for the summer or benefit your local beetle population by making a beetle bank.”