‘Nature Notes’: May 2020

May was a dry month with almost unbreakingly clear skies. The huge dose of sun has been sucked up by the flowers and trees; and the apples in the two orchards (pictured below) are beginning to swell. Some rain in June would be most welcome, though, for the plants, insects, birds, and other animals who live in the Park.

A developing apple in Hixberry Lane Orchard

Staying with the orchards, these are some of the most biodiverse areas in the Park. The wildflowers that grow underneath and between the trees offer food-plants for a diverse range of insects, and our no-chemicals policy ensures that they have a health environment in which to develop. Some recently photographed insects include mating dock bugs, numerous larvae of the seven-spot ladybird, and a box bug.

Mating dock bugs on a dock in Hixberry Lane Orchard
A seven-spot ladybird larva (left) and a box bug (right), both in Hixberry Lane Orchard

More generally, away from the Park, we can all do our bit to help insect life – and, in turn, the birds and others animals who feed on them, and the plants who rely on them for pollination – with a few simple actions. Those of us who have a garden could add a wildflower area, for instance, or follow any of the other tips here. If we would like council-owned road verges to be mown less frequently, we can let them know this. And, in the supermarkets and other food shops, we can – if the items are within our individual budgets – seek to buy more organic produce. The sad reality is that insect life is in crisis, and without dramatic changes for the better, this foundational block of life is going to really struggle over the coming decades.