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January Insects

18 January 2012 | Posted in Insects , Jess Price , Wildlife Advice

Author Jess Price

red admiral on ivy / Erica Bower

We're only two weeks into the New Year and we've already had wonderful warm spells, gale force winds and frosty mornings. This mix of weather may cause problems for insects that wake up expecting it to be spring and soon find that food is scarce.

This isnt the end of the world. Every once in a while we have an unusually warm year or an unusually cold year or an unusually wet year. Whilst this can spell disaster for individuals, most species as a whole can cope with these anomalies. Its the long term climate changes that we need to be concerned about.

Unfortunately theres not much we can do for the individual butterflies and bees seen out in the warm days last week. But there are a few actions we can all take to improve the chances of insects next time the weather goes a bit topsy-turvy.

Variety is the spice of life

So try to get a wide range of native plants in your garden that flower and fruit at different times of year. This way insects have a better chance of finding food no matter when they emerge.

Early bloomers

A hedgerow of early flowering hazel and blackthorn mixed with bramble, hawthorn and field maple is ideal. But even if you dont have a garden, you can still plant up a window box with crocuses and other spring bulbs, summer herbs such as thyme and marjoram and late flowering species like lavender. Why not make the most of the space and use a trellis to get some ivy and honeysuckle going.

Let things get a bit messy in autumn

Im not saying you need to turn your garden into a jungle, but leaving dead plants and leaf litter in a few patches can make all the difference to some species. Many insects will have laid eggs hidden amongst the dead vegetation or will have bedded down in hollow stems and dry flower heads to spend the winter.

Keep records of when things happen

We all know that its a bit strange to see so many insects buzzing around in January, but we dont know if this is a one off or more of a long term pattern. By marking down the first time you see a bumblebee each year or the date that frog spawn appears in your pond we can get a long term view of whats happening to wildlife in Sussex.

You can submit one off records quickly via our website form

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