National Insect Week 2022

National Insect Week 2022

Wasp Beetle, pictured at Rutland Water Nature Reserve by Tim Sexton

There is much more of a buzz than normal coming from the wildflower meadows, woodlands and wetlands of Rutland Water Nature Reserve this week, as staff and volunteers get excited about National Insect Week. An event organised by the Royal Entomological Society that aims to encourage people of all ages to learn more about our fascinating species of insect.

Insects make up some of the most numerous and diverse organisms on the planet and more than 24,000 species have been recorded in the UK alone.

In the last 45 years we have identified over 2,000 species of insect at Rutland Water, including; 32 species of butterfly, 130 species of bee and wasp, 230 species of true fly, 450 species of beetle, and over 750 species of moth.

As Rutland Water Nature Reserve has become established and mature over time, new species are being discovered on an almost weekly basis including many scarce wetland specialists. They vary in size from tiny featherwing beetles, measuring less than 1mm in length, to the Emperor Dragonfly, one of the largest flying insects found in the UK, and a species that has increased in number in recent years, measuring a whopping 78mm.

Insects play an incredibly valuable role within our ecosystem; they pollinate flowers, control pests, remove waste and they provide an abundance of food for other animals. It is estimated that insects pollinate around one-third of all crops eaten by humans. And it wouldn’t just be us that would go hungry if insects were to disappear tomorrow, it has been suggested that most reptiles, amphibians, and around half of all bird species would be lost in a world without insects!

They can be found in any type of habitat from your back garden, in the middle of the city centre and of course on our Nature Reserves. Next time you visit your local green space, nature reserve, or just step out into your garden, why not stop and take a closer look at some flowering plants and see what a huge variety of insects you can see?

The great thing about studying insects is that you don’t need to go far to find them.
Tim Sexton

This year, National Insect Week coincides with National Pollination Week, a campaign to highlight the importance of pollinators in the ecosystem - and it is not just about bees.

There is a whole host of other insect pollinators, In fact, at least 1,500 insect species pollinate plants in the UK! From hoverflies to wasps, butterflies, beetles and moths they are all vitally important – even those insects considered pests such as house flies and mosquitoes are valuable pollinators! Some insect pollinators, even go the extra mile to look like bees or wasps, in order to protect themselves against would-be predators. Like the wasp beetle (Clytus arietis) or Six-belted Clearwing Moth (Bembecia Ichneumoniformis), pictured, which were spotted at Rutland in the last week.

Sadly, despite all the recent discoveries at Rutland Water, on a national scale, pollinators and other insects are in decline.

A report, Insect Declines and Why They Matter, published in November 2019 by an alliance of Wildlife Trusts in the south-west, brought together evidence that showed the loss of 50% or more of our insects since 1970. While the news is bleak, there are a number of things you can do to help insects around your own home; you could grow pollinator-friendly native wildflowers in your garden or window box, you could let your lawn grow a little wilder, you could reduce your use of pesticides in your garden or even build an insect hotel.

See more ways you can help insects