22 May 2013
Insects are a great indicator of the health of the environment. There's several organisations running surveys, and lots of ways to get involved.
Everybody likes ladybirds, so you might like to take part in the UK Ladybird Survey. On their website there's lots of information to help you find and identify species, and online forms so that you can record what you've seen.
Butterflies and moths
Butterfly Conservation runs a wide range of butterfly and moth recording schemes. These help monitor the changing fortunes of these beautiful creatures but also to act as indicators for wider wildlife and the health of the environment. For beginners (or those with very little time to spare) the Big Butterfly Count takes just 15 minutes in any sunny spot during July and August.
Regular recorders can submit their sightings to the national distribution recording schemes for butterflies (Butterflies for the New Millennium) and moths (National Moth Recording Scheme), or undertake regular transect counts to help generate butterfly population trends through the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme or Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey.
For those interested in moths, the Rothamsted Insect Survey provides opportunities for amateur enthusiasts to run a light trap as part of a nationwide network monitoring these insects.
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust runs BeeWalk, a survey scheme that helps us to monitor changes in bumblebee populations and will allow us to detect early warning signs of population declines. It is also a lovely way to spend an hour or two on a sunny day! In order to collect this important information volunteers pick a fixed-route of 1-2 km and record what they see on each monthly walk.
If you love digital photography and wish to learn more about bumblebees then please upload your bumblebee photos to BeeWatch. Share some basic information about the photo such as the date and location and an expert will send you feedback with the correct identification and some interesting information about the species you photographed. BeeWatch allows us to gather more valuable information about the distribution of our 24 species of bumblebee.
Buglife runs a range of surveys each year, both for individual species like the scarlet malachite beetle, or for species groups, such as pollinators. This essential information enables us to monitor the state of our wildlife and to deliver effective conservation action where it is most needed. Volunteers are always needed, so if you have a passion for all creatures great and small, why not find out how you can take part?
One of the best things you can do for wildlife in the garden is to put in a pond. But amazingly nobody really knows what you need to do to make a great wildlife garden pond. By taking part in the Big Pond Dip you are helping Pond Conservation to find out how good garden ponds are for wildlife. It will also help us to tell what types of pond support the most animal life. We will use this information to give advice about how to make garden ponds even better for wildlife.