If the climate catastrophe threatening heatwave we’ve been having in the UK wasn’t enough in itself to keep me awake, something else has been worrying me lately: crashing populations of invertebrates.
My garden seems to be teeming with life at the moment. The flowers are at their peak and are drawing in pollinators by the dozen, the warm weather has brought out the butterflies and I’ve even some noticed some entirely new visitors in the form of hornet mimic hoverflies, but despite this, there are areas in which invertebrate life is conspicuous by its absence. This tweet reminded me of this the other day.
When I was a kid growing up in the 1980’s – our car would be absolutely covered in dead insects after a long family car journey. It occurred to me the other day, that I haven’t seen that for a long time. Surely this says a hell of a lot about the state of UK’s invert populations
And I do remember that. Being fascinated and disgusted in equal measure by the splat marks from insects on the windscreen. How the bigger ones would leave a body and the smaller ones would seemingly almost vaporize. And how sorry I’d feel for them that they never stood a chance. But James is right, you just don’t see them as much anymore.
The thing that has really been missing for me is moths and flies. I can remember as a small child watching fascinated as several fat flies would zip around our living room in bizarre geometric patterns, suddenly changing directions for no apparent reason. They’d appear any time the windows of our house were opened. My mother was an obsessive cleaner so I should really have more flies, not less in the house. Now we get about one large nuisance fly a day. Who would even need a fly swat anymore, or fly paper? They used to be household staples for my great-grandmother’s generation.
The moths though, seem to me a great pity. My parents always used to lecture me about having the window open when the lights were on because the most incredible large moths would fly in in droves. I text my brother a few months ago asking if he remembered the huge moths we used to get in the house, but you hardly see them anymore. My heart leapt when I saw this vain little buff ermine eyeing itself in my bathroom the other night, just as beautiful as a butterfly but with a little more mystique.
I’m going to make sure that I plant a lot more plants for moth caterpillars going forward. The summer evenings just don’t feel quite right without them.