BBOWT is going wild about beetles!

Rosechafer beetle by Andrew Halstead, RHS

Beetles are the unsung heroes of the garden and need our help.

A new campaign to bring back our beetles was launched today by The Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), as part of their annual ‘Wild About Gardens' initiative. The two charities are calling on gardeners to create habitats for these important but often overlooked insects, which are a vital part of every healthy garden. 

Providing a patch for beetles, including ladybirds, ground beetles and rose chafers, is a great way to encourage balance in the garden and boost biodiversity, with many species under threat from habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change and the use of pesticides.       

The UK has more than 4,000 beetle species and, although a handful may eat plants, many are predators, pollinators and decomposers, feeding both the soil and larger garden visitors such as birds and hedgehogs.

Ladybirds help gardeners by eating aphids, while some ground beetles feed on vine weevil grubs and water beetles keep mosquito larvae under control in ponds. Even the much-maligned lily beetle provides food for three parasitoid wasps.

Ladybird by Jon Hawkins/Surrey Hills Photography

7-spot ladybird by Jon Hawkins/Surrey Hills Photography

BBOWT’s Community Wildlife Manager Kate Sheard said:

“Beetles are incredible creatures and a vital part of a healthy garden, but they are under threat, from habitat loss, pesticides and our changing climate. Beetles are important predators, gobbling up garden pests such as aphids, and they also provide food for larger animals, such as hedgehogs and birds.

“These marvellous minibeasts also play a key role in our gardens, helping pollinate our flowers and crops and recycling nutrients, by eating and digesting plants and returning their goodness back to the soil. So why not join our campaign and make a home for beetles in your garden this spring?” 

The new campaign guide published today, ‘Bring back our beetles’, includes ideas for making your garden more beetle-friendly this year:

Log piles by Tim Sandall, RHS

Log piles by Tim Sandall, RHS

  • Build a beetle bank – Adding a mound of soil, particularly in flat gardens, adds both shady and sunny habitat and provides shelter for lots of invertebrates
  • Make a dead hedge – Structured piles of branches and twigs can be used to divide up an area of the garden and provide a residence for beetles as they rot away
  • Create a beetle bucket – perfect for small gardens, filling a bucket with rotting wood and leaves makes a home for all sorts of beetles and other insects

Log and rock piles, plenty of pollen-rich flowers and not cutting back dead plant stems until late winter are other good ways to attract beetles and other wildlife. 

Helen Bostock, Senior Horticultural Advisor at the RHS said:

“Beetles are really cool. They come in so many shapes, sizes and colours and play lots of different roles in garden life – nibblers, pest controllers, pollinators, recyclers, and even undertakers. Like so much of our wildlife, they are under threat so we hope by shining a spotlight on them people will really start to appreciate and encourage beetles in their gardens.”

Click beetle by Margaret Holland

Click beetle by Margaret Holland

Ellie Brodie, Head of Land Management at The Wildlife Trusts said:

“At a time when insect populations are on the ropes, it is so important that we create and restore wild areas to give them a fighting chance to recover. Beetles are such fascinating creatures – take the maybug – look closely at its antennae, you’ll never see anything quite so exquisite!

“The Wildlife Trusts want to see nature recovery happening across 30% of all land and sea by 2030. Absolutely everybody can play their part by rewilding part of their garden – collectively we can do so much to give nature a boost and now’s the time to get started!”

The downloadable ‘Bring back our beetles’ guide and more information about the campaign can be found on the Wild About Gardens website at www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk.