Gardeners urged to help beetles

Beetles are the unsung heroes of the garden and need our support, say the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and The Wildlife Trusts, as they launch 2021’s Wild About Gardens campaign.

The two charities are calling on gardeners to create habitats for these important but often overlooked insects which are a vital part of every healthy garden. 

Providing a patch for beetles, including ladybirds, ground beetles and rose chafers, is a great way to encourage balance in the garden and boost biodiversity, with many species under threat from habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change.       

The UK has more than 4,000 beetle species and, although a handful may eat plants, many are predators, pollinators and decomposers, feeding both the soil and larger garden visitors such as birds and hedgehogs.

Ladybirds help gardeners by eating aphids while some ground beetles feed on vine weevil grubs and water beetles keep mosquito larvae under control in ponds. Even the much-maligned lily beetle provides food for three parasitoid wasps.

A new campaign guide published today, ‘Bring back our beetles’, includes ideas for making your garden more beetle-friendly this year:

  • Build a beetle bank – Adding a mound of soil, particularly in flat gardens, adds both shady and sunny habitat and provides shelter for lots of invertebrates.
  • Make a dead hedge – Structured piles of branches and twigs can be used to divide up an area of the garden and provide a home for beetles.
  • Create a beetle bucket – perfect for small gardens, filling a bucket with rotting wood and leaves makes a home for all sorts of beetles and other insects.

Log and rock piles, plenty of pollen-rich flowers and not cutting back dead plant stems until late winter are other good ways to attract beetles and other wildlife. 

Helen Bostock, Senior Horticultural Advisor at the RHS says: “Beetles are really cool. They come in so many shapes, sizes and colours and play lots of different roles in garden life – nibblers, pest controllers, pollinators, recyclers, and even undertakers. Like so much of our wildlife, they are under threat so we hope by shining a spotlight on them people will really start to appreciate and encourage beetles in their gardens.”

Ellie Brodie, Head of Land Management at The Wildlife Trusts says: “Beetles play an absolutely crucial role in maintaining a natural balance in your garden. At a time when insect populations are on the ropes, it is so important that we create and restore wild areas to give them a fighting chance to recover. Beetles are such fascinating creatures – take the Maybug – look closely at its antennae, you’ll never see anything quite so exquisite!

“The Wildlife Trusts want to see nature recovery happening across 30% of all land and sea by 2030. Absolutely everybody can play their part by rewilding part of their garden – collectively we can do so much to give nature a boost and now’s the time to get started!”

Dave Goulson, Ambassador of The Wildlife Trusts: “Beetles are fantastic. They come in a range of sizes, colours and some are even luminescent. They are amongst the most diverse group of insects, performing vital roles such as pollinating, disposing of dung and dead animals, recycling dead trees, and much more. Creating homes for them in your garden, such as log piles and beetle banks, is an important way to combat the global insect decline, an issue that’s having such a huge impact on nature.”

Alison Steadman, Actor and Ambassador of The Wildlife Trusts: “I love making space for wildlife in my garden – and despite their tiny size, beetles are no exception! I embrace my beetle visitors as I know they help keep a natural balance in my garden and provide food for the birds that I love watching, like nuthatches, goldfinches and wrens. I think it’s so important to set aside space for nature in your garden, and there’s a real joy that comes from spotting the red flash of a ladybird or the jewelled green of a mint beetle.”

The downloadable ‘Bring back our beetles’ guide and more information about the campaign can be found on the Wild About Gardens website at: www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk

Dung beetles wild about gardens 2021

Contacts

For more information please contact:

RHS: Claire Weaver, Press Officer, Communities and Education, claireweaver@rhs.org.uk or 07590 930 047

The Wildlife Trusts: Harry Shepherd, Senior Media Officer, hshepherd@wildlifetrusts.org or 07842 321 069

Editors notes

Wild About Gardens

The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS set up Wild About Gardens www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk in 2009. It is an annual celebration of wildlife gardening and provides a focus to encourage people to use their gardens and take action to help support wildlife. Over the past 50 years we've seen declines in two thirds of the UK’s plant and animal species, for a range of reasons, including loss of habitat. Many of our common garden species - hedgehogs, house sparrows, starlings and common frogs, for example – are increasingly endangered. Gardens have enormous potential to act as mini-nature reserves.

The Wildlife Trusts

The Wildlife Trusts believe that people need nature and it needs us. We are here to make the world wilder and to make nature part of everyone’s lives. We are a grassroots movement of 46 charities with more than 850,000 members and 38,000 volunteers. No matter where you are in the UK, there is a Wildlife Trust inspiring people and saving, protecting and standing up for the natural world. With the support of our members, we care for and restore special places for nature on land and run marine conservation projects and collect vital data on the state of our seas. Every Wildlife Trust works within its local community to inspire people to create a wilder future – from advising thousands of landowners on how to manage their land to benefit wildlife, to connecting hundreds of thousands of school children with nature every year.  wildlifetrusts.org  

About the RHS  

The Royal Horticultural Society, the world’s leading gardening charity, was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK agreener and more beautiful place. This aspiration underpins all that we do, from inspirational gardens and shows, through our scientific research, to our education and community programmes such as Campaign for School Gardening and Britain in Bloom. We produce key publications, hold a world-class collection of horticultural books and botanical art, and sell the very best plants and gardening gifts.

The RHS is fundraising £40m to transform our gardens, outreach and education facilities, which includes redeveloping our flagship RHS Garden Wisley and opening a new garden, RHS Garden Bridgewater, in 2021. We are solely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. For more information visit www.rhs.org.uk. RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

Campaigning for natures recovery

Read more about our plans for bringing nature back.