Sussex ecologist Laurie Jackson gave a talk to Ferring Conservation Group on 31 May on ‘Looking after our Wild Pollinators’. She said most fruit and vegetable crops depended on insects to carry their pollen to the ovaries of another plant of the same species and that insect populations are falling rapidly, raising real fears of falling yields. If these crops had to be pollinated by hand it would cost billions of pounds a year and make it impossible to grow them at prices that people could afford. Wild flower populations were also at risk.
She said honey bees were very useful in pollination but they were only one of 4,000 species of insects in the UK that carried out this essential process. Solitary bees and bumblebees were actually more efficient than honey bees and flies, especially hoverflies, were more efficient still. Butterflies, moths and beetles were also important pollinators.
Conservation Group members were urged to help insects to survive – by planting the right sort of plants, and leaving a part of their garden ‘untidy’ where insects could live undisturbed, and by creating refuges where insects could shelter, over-winter and reproduce. Modern farming methods were largely to blame for the loss of so many insects but everyone could do something to help the wild pollinators to continue their essential work.
Members also had a round-up of local wildlife news from Tricia Hall, including sightings of water voles on Ferring Rife, Whitethroats and a Red Kite. Ed Miller gave his report on current planning applications – he said there had been a run of applications to convert bungalows into two-storey houses – and Chairman David Bettiss gave an update on forthcoming events, including two trips out by boat to see the Rampion Windfarm at close quarters.