Transcript: Are we approaching an insect apocalypse?

Professor Dave Goulson

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Hi. My name is Dave Goulson. I'm professor of biology at the University of Sussex. And this is my Garden talk. Uh, so as you have gathered, I'm something of a an insect enthusiast. I'm I never grew out that childhood interest in caterpillars and butterflies and insects generally, um, and I guess I've been really lucky and that I managed to make a living out of my hobby. I spent the last 30 years being paid to chase around after insects, which has been a real privilege. Um, and but at the same time, it's been slightly saddening because I've been aware that they have been declining and also frustrated by the fact that I love insects.

But it seems like most people don't that, actually, although lots of kids have a bug phase like I did, um, by the time they're adults, most people's reaction to anything that buzzes near them is fright. They flap around there trying to kill it, which is really sad, because, as we'll see, insects are are hugely important. Um, and and at the very least, deserve our respect. But anyway, um, let me let me rewind a bit. So, uh, insects there is a huge topic. There's so much I could tell you about them.

Um, I thought I'd start at the beginning, So insects have been around there are amongst the oldest animals on our planet. Uh, they first appeared about 480 million years ago. Nearly half a billion years, Twice as long ago as the first dinosaurs. Um, and And they were really the first animals to make a success of life on land. Um, among their many accomplishments, they were the first creatures probably to sing to make noise on our planet. Um, and they were the first creatures to fly. Took them about 100 million years before they took off.

But then they had the skies to themselves for about 160 million years until the first terror sorts took off. Um and so they've proliferated. They've speciation. And there there are now estimated what we know of about 1.1 million species of insects. They comprise two thirds of of all known life forms. And, um, it's one of the most mind boggling things I can tell you about Insects is actually it's estimated that there there are at least another four million waiting to be discovered. So we haven't actually yet found most of the insects on our planet.

How cool is that? Um, I should what? I'm talking about the origins of insects. Uh, perhaps worth mentioning that when insects first evolved, oxygen concentrations were much higher than they are today. And that enabled insects to grow much bigger than any do today. And so there were Dragonflies flying around in the sort of prehistoric earth with a wingspan of about 60 centimetres. two ft must have been awesome beasts. I wish I could have seen one of those. Anyway, my specialty are Arby's. I was initially interested in butterflies and moths as you may have gathered, but eventually realised that actually, butterflies and moths are relatively simple creatures, Um, kind of beautiful, but slightly airheaded and actually bees for me and much more exciting.

They're They're very clever for insects. They're kind of the intellectual giants of the insect world. Um, and they're really important as pollinators, which will come back to to later. Um, these relative newcomers. Compared to the first insects, at least they've been around a mere 120 million years, or So, um uh, so that they appeared in the middle of the the age of the dinosaurs. Um, and they evolved from wasps. They're essentially wasps turned vegan, if you like. Um, instead of preying on on some kind of insect, as most wasps do, um, they switched to feeding their offspring on pollen and nectar, and and that was the first B and that they, too, have proliferated.

And there are now about 25,000 different types of be on our planet. You've got bumble bees, which are actually the ones I focus most on honeybees, leaf cutter bees, uh, mason bees, mining bees, sweat bees. I could go on 25,000 different species, Um, enough to keep me occupied for the rest of my career. I'm sure so So I mentioned this sort of, uh, slight sadness that's tinged my working life from the the growing knowledge that insects are declining. And, of course, the title of this talk is is there an insect apocalypse? Um, so let me tell you what we do know about what's happening with with insects.

So I should first admit that actually, there are huge knowledge gaps. Most insects aren't being counted by, uh, by anybody. Um, there are there are, as I've said, millions of species. Uh, we haven't even named most of them. And, um, it's very time consuming to set up a long term monitoring programme, counting them regularly to see how their populations are changing. So we don't have data for many insects, but the ones we do have, sadly, are in trouble. Um, so, for example, perhaps the best studies studied insects in the world are, uh, the UK's butterflies, which have been monitored since 1976 when I was 11 years old.

So I was in my youthful butterfly chasing phase when this monitoring scheme started. Uh, and the data from that scheme shows that that butterflies in the U. K have roughly halved in abundance since 1976. So what's that? 46 years. So my youngest son is now, uh is just 12, actually, um, so he's growing up in a world with half as many butterflies as the one I grew up in. Um, we have data from other countries. So for example, um, in Germany, keen insect enthusiasts have been insect trapping since the late 19 eighties, using things called malaise traps, which are kind of tent like traps, which catch all flying insects.

And, uh, their data show that the the daily weight of insects caught in their traps has fallen by 76% in the 26 years from 1989 to 2015 or whatever that is. Um, 73 quarters of the flying insects seem to have vanished from Germany in just 26 years. Now that's pretty alarming. Um, we don't have good data from many other parts of the world, but I'll just give you one other example. The Monarch Butterfly, which is a gorgeous butterfly, um, North American species. One of their biggest and most iconic butterflies, which undergoes an extraordinary migration.

They overwinter every year, um, in a small area of just a few hectares of forest in Mexico, and in the spring they fly north and they breed in right through the United States and Canada. And then in the autumn, they fly back again to Mexico. It's extraordinary life cycle, particularly amazing, actually, because the butterflies that fly back are the grandchildren of the butterflies that set off in the spring, and yet they go back to exactly the same place their grandparents left to within a few metres.

How they do that is unknown. But anyway, sadly, monarch butterflies down 80% in the last 25 years. Um, so is it Is it justified to say that there's an insect apocalypse? Um, well, actually, strictly speaking, the word apocalypse, if you look at what it means, means that kind of revelation, uh, literally translates from Greek as as to take the lid off. So it's perhaps not very helpful, but it's general, more and more everyday uses to mean some kind of catastrophe. Um, right, if let me put it like this, if if the British human population had fallen by 50% since 1976 I don't think anybody would disagree that that was a catastrophe and apocalypse if you like.

Um, if the German human population was down 76% in 26 years, that would definitely be a catastrophe. Um, so from my perspective, we are living through an insect apocalypse right now, and it's quite sad actually to me that most people have never really noticed they pay little attention to insects. Uh, they don't think too kindly of of insects. But one of the only things that really people have the most people have noticed. Uh, if you're old enough, you may recall I can recall the time when if you went for a long drive in the summer, um, you had to stop every few hours to clean your windscreen because it became plastered with with squashed insects that had crashed into the car.

Um, and I remember when I was a kid getting out and how you know, be given the job of cleaning the wind, the wind screen, and that just doesn't happen anymore. You can drive all day in beautiful hot weather like today and then maybe one or two, but you'll never you'll never find that you can't see where you're going as we used to, anyway. So the evidence is quite clear for the for the insects. We have data. They are declining steadily, and this is an ongoing decline that probably didn't start in 1976 or 1989 when the data start probably started much earlier, and so far as we know is is still going on.

And this should really worry us because insects are vitally important. Um, there's a quote from a bit of a hero of mine. A guy called E. O Wilson, who was an American insect fanatic and top scientist, died in his nineties just a few months ago, sadly. But he said that if all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed 10,000 years ago. But if the insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos. Um, so basically, if we disappeared, there would be no bad thing for the rest of life on Earth.

But if the insects would go, it would be catastrophic. According to hear Wilson and I 100% agree with him. Uh, so why why? Why would it be so bad if insects continued to decline? Well, they make up the bulk of life on Earth, as I've already mentioned. So they are biodiversity. Um, uh, their food for a huge array of other organisms, including many species of birds, bats, freshwater fish, frogs and toads and lizards, and so on. All of them depend on on insects for food, and then they perform a whole bunch of other really vital roles in ecosystems, most of which are not appreciated by anybody.

We just kind of take them for granted if we even know they're doing these things. So, for example, dung beetles, dung beetles are amazing creatures that most people pay no attention to at all. I love dung beetles. Very sweet and very important. They help to clear away dung. And the importance of that was illustrated in Australia. Um, where we when we took cattle to Australia, the Australian dung beetles couldn't cope with the rather liquid, uh, excrement produced by cattle. They were used to kangaroo poo, which is much drier, um, and so without dung beetles to dispose of it, the the key parts just dried and hardened.

By the 19 fifties in Australia, the extent of land covered under this sheet of key parts was growing by 2000 square kilometres per year. The grass couldn't grow because they couldn't get through the dried keypad, and they had to introduce dung beetles from South Africa that were capable of of coping with cow dung. And the problem was solved within a year or two. Who'd have thought dung beetles could be so important? Um, and then there are other recyclers beetles that get rid of and and blow flies that help to get rid of corpses.

There are insects keeping the soil healthy. Insects play vital roles in, um, controlling crop pests. And of course, uh, the one thing that I think many people do understand that insects do is they pollinate. They pollinate our crops and wildflowers. The majority of wild plant species on our planet wouldn't produce any seeds and would eventually die out if they weren't visited by some kind of insects to pollinate them. Three quarters of the crops we grow as humans in the world depend upon insect pollination.

So we've become used to this amazing echo to a supermarket and this this beautiful array of fruits and vegetables available 12 months of the year, often flown in from all over the world. Um, most of them wouldn't be there if if we didn't have pollinating insects. Um, so everything from apples and pears, Cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes, chilli peppers, squashes, even things like coffee and chocolate depend upon insect pollinators. So imagine life without those would be awful.

Indeed. Um, I should say that pollination. Many people think it's all done by bees. Um, actually, that's not not strictly true. Um, pollination is done by thousands of species of insects, including butterflies and moths, beetles, lots of different species of flies, wasps and so on. All get in on the act, and between them, they make sure we have plenty to eat. Um, and sadly, there are are really concerning me. There are parts of the world now where farmers are having to resort to becoming the bees themselves to hand pollinating their crops because, uh, they've managed that the bee population to pollinated population has declined to such an extent.

Uh, that the crops don't don't produce a good harvest unless the farmers hand pollinate themselves. And one of the best studied examples is from China, where in southwest China there are huge areas of apple and pear orchards which, um, now all hand pollinated. The farmers send their Children clambering up in the trees with little paintbrushes to pollinate each flower manually. What a job. It's just about economically viable in China. But it's hard to imagine a farmer in in Europe hand pollinating his fields of oil, seed, rape or some flowers or whatever we really need to look out, look after, uh, pollinators, unless there's one solution to the to the pollinator decline crisis, which has been suggested by some scientists, which is that we should build robots to replace the bees.

Um, and there are at least four labs that I'm aware of around the world that are right now building little robot bees to pollinate our crops for us and the premises while the bees are disappearing. What's the best solution? Build little robots, robot bees, drones to pollinate? Um, it makes me kind of sad. As you might guess. I don't think it's actually practical. We would need to literally build trillions of these things. Think of the resources, the energy, the materials. There are trillions of real bees in the world, and we're really going to replace them all.

Is that viable? They're going to break down. We're going to end up with the countryside littered and little dead. Be bots or worse still, Just imagine if Vladimir Putin's computer hackers break into the bebop control system and turn them on us. It doesn't bear thinking about when you think about it. They're real. Bees have been pollinating flowers 420 million years. They're really good at it and they're self replicating. They're they're biodegradable, their carbon neutral. They seem to have a whole bunch of really desirable properties.

And surely it makes more sense to to look after the real thing rather than designing their replacements anyway. So if we're going to look after bees and other insects better, we need to think about why they're declining in the first place. Uh, now, this is a big and complicated subject. I'll just plug my book. Actually, briefly, I've got a new book out Silent Earth, which is all about insects and their declines and what we can do to fix them. There are many drivers of insect declines, things like light pollution, climate change, invasive species, uh, probably habitat loss on a global scale is still the biggest driver, particularly loss of rain forests and so on in the tropics.

Um, and the spread of industrialised farming and all of the pesticides associated with it is undoubtedly another big contributor. We've we've come up with a an approach to feeding the world, which is based on growing huge areas of a single crop. These large field monocultures sprayed over and over again with with an array of different pesticides, which are basically poisons in an attempt to basically replace all of the biodiversity that used to live there with one species of crop. And, of course, inevitably, that that's having a huge impact and huge negative impact on wildlife around around the world, particularly the pesticides.

Most crops are sprayed multiple times with chemicals designed to kill insects, but also chemicals designed to kill fun guy to kill weeds that insects often depend upon with chemicals to kill slugs and snails. Um, there's this kind of barrage. It's it's quite terrifying. Um, actually, it's 60 years, Almost exactly since Rachel Carson published her book Silent Spring in 1962 which highlighted the harm being done by pesticides. I fear poor Rachel would would weep if you could see how much worse the situation is today.

The number of pesticides used is much greater than it used to be. The amount used is much greater. Um uh, And yes, it's it's all rather depressing. But let's be positive now. Enough of the doom and gloom. Um, there is There is a There is a good side to this story. because most, uh, environmental issues, um, you feel helpless about climate change or deforestation of the Amazon or whatever. You know, you don't feel as much you can do. That's really gonna gonna help. Um, but with insect declines because they live all around us, we can all get involved in looking after them.

Um uh, and most of them haven't gone extinct yet, and they can recover really quickly if we just provide them with the right conditions. Uh, so one of the areas that I'm really enthusiastic about is encouraging, um, insects in Gardens, inviting them in to our lives to our urban areas. There are just in the U. K. 22 million private Gardens covering an area of about. It's about 400,000 hectares, which is a bigger area than all of the UK's nature reserves put together. Just imagine if all of those Gardens were insect friendly, buzzing with bumble bees and butterflies and full of wildflowers and pesticide free and so on.

And even better if we could get the the local councils on board so that the road verges were full of wildflowers, the roundabouts, the city parks, the cemeteries, and so on, and that would be a national network of of bug friendly habitat. And that would really be a big step in the right direction and would also have the added benefit that it would mean that our kids would grow up in a world where they encountered these little creatures on a regular regular basis. I've written more books about that, but I'll spay the plugs.

Um, guy so Gardening. I know not everybody has a Garden. Sadly, um, but many of us do 22 million of us, at least as I've mentioned, you probably think of Gardening as a green activity, and it is, or it can be, but it really does depend how you do it. So there was. There was a new report out just a few days ago, a survey which showed that 12% of Gardeners have now created a wildflower meadow in their Garden, which is brilliant. But the survey also revealed that 10% of Gardeners have put down plastic grass, which is not so brilliant.

I can't I won't launch into a diatribe on the how awful plastic grasses, Um, but anyway, so some people's idea of Gardening is a super tidy Garden they buy. They might go to The Garden centre at the weekend and fill a trolley with annual bedding plants grown in disposable plastic pots, probably grown in peat based composts, probably sprayed with lots of pesticides. Um, they might buy some bug spray and some round up to clear the weeds in the drive and some fertiliser and a sack of peat based compost and take it all home.

Well, that's all awful for the environment, I'm afraid, but on the other hand, managed more gently. Gardens can be a biodiversity hotspots, Um, and in fact, this amazing story of a lady who lived in Leicester called Jennie O. In who? Um, she had a little eighth of an acre Garden in fairly close to the city centre of Leicester, and she spent 35 years cataloguing every single animal and plant she could find in her Garden. Uh, and after 35 years, her species list was 2673 different species, which makes it so far as I know that the by known biodiversity hotspot on the planet.

Clearly, there are actually more species in the tropics in the rainforest but nobody spent 35 years cataloguing it. So, um, top marks to her for perseverance. But it does show that we can have extraordinary numbers of creatures living with us in our in our Gardens. Um, to do that, we just need to grow some of the right kinds of flowers. Old fashioned cottage Garden flowers are great. Wildflowers are particularly good. Which brings me briefly to the subject of of weeds were taught as Gardeners that we should eradicate certain plants that they're undesirable things like dandelions.

You know, you're a bad Gardner if your lawn is full of dandelions. So we're told. But actually dandelions are fantastic plants for wildlife. Great for Bumble Bee Queen's in the spring. Um, I think they're rather beautiful and their native wildflowers, as is ragweed as our missiles also great plants for nature. So you can get rid of all the, uh, all the weeds in your Garden just with a click of your fingers. If you just rename them all wildflowers, we can squeeze more flowers into our Gardens by planting flowering trees.

By not mowing so much. Um, that's a real hot topic at the moment. No mo may you may well have heard of has been campaigns to encourage people to reduce their mowing, to create a wildflower area. And it is interesting how obsessive we Brits are in many of us, at least in trying to recreate something that looks like a Wimbledon tennis court in our Garden, mowing religiously every weekend, up and down in dead straight lines. Um, it's What Is that all about? It? Really, Um, so and and actually, if you stop mowing, it's amazing how many flowers often just pop up of their own accord.

My Garden is full of my lawn, is full of all sorts of lovely flowers. So if you next time you get the urge to mow, you can just kind of restrain yourself slightly. And, uh, instead of getting the more out of the shed, get a deck chair out and make yourself a coffee or a gin and tonic and just sit there and relax and and watch the flowers come out and the bees arrive. And it's a much more productive way to spend your time anyway, so we could have wildflowers in our Gardens, in our cities, in our parks and so on.

Um sadly often, uh, councils don't seem to agree with my vision of how our cities might look. And they employ teams of people to drive around the streets, spraying herbicide on any anything green that they see any little patch of grass around the base of a tree, any weeds trying to poke their heads from little cracks in the pavement. I find that really sad. It's sort of typifies this tidy minded attitude, which I'm afraid is really harmful to biodiversity and also actually rather dangerous to us.

Because the chemical often sprayed by the local council, um, is something usually something called Roundup, which has the active ingredient glyphosate, which the World Health Organisation says is a probable carcinogen. And yet many of us by and spread in our Gardens, our city streets are being sprayed with it. Even I've seen spray play equipment in Children's playgrounds, being sprayed with a carcinogen that seems completely nuts to me, totally unnecessary as well. And so I think we should. We should try to be a little more tolerant of plants growing, uh, wherever they want to grow.

Personally, I'd ban pesticides in urban areas completely. The French did this recently, and Paris is still standing. It hasn't been overrun with dandelions and giant cockroaches. And Paris can cope with that. Pesticides? Why can't London Why can't every city around the world? Okay, so I'd like to talk about other areas to things like farming, which actually covers a much bigger area of land than our Gardens. And I think we also need to think about how we can grow food in a more sustainable way in a way that supports biodiversity as well as producing healthy food for us.

Um, but I haven't really got time to delve into that in in depth. Um, I just like to finish off by talking about. So I've explained why insects are important. Um, because they do stuff that we depend upon, they recycle, they pollinate and so on. But actually, that seems to me like quite a selfish way of viewing the insect world. Um, it's only valuing insects for what they do for us. Um, there are probably loads of insects that don't do anything for us. They're just going about their quiet lives somewhere, wherever it might be doing nothing that's relevant to our lives.

But surely they still deserve to to exist. Just because they don't benefit us doesn't mean we should exterminate them or allow our actions to wipe them out. And I must admit, although I often argue that we should look after bees because they pollinate and so on, actually, the real reason I think we should look after bees is because they're amazing. They're beautiful. They have been here much longer than we have, and surely they deserve a place on on our planet. If you if you step back for a minute, we don't often stop to think about this, but we we live on a rock hurtling through space.

It's absurd when you think about it. Is a little crust of life clinging to its surface? Um, most, most of that life at different types of of insect. Um, it's extraordinary. We don't know whether there's another life out there in the universe, but we do know that that what we have is is unique. It's our home. It provides us with everything we we need, Uh, and it makes me really sad that we've been so reckless without with our planet, and it worries me enormously that that we're going to hand over our planet to the next generation.

To my Children and grandchildren. If I ever have them in an impoverished state, you know, we would all do anything, wouldn't we? For our for our Children, Apart from, apparently, leave them a decent planet to live on, and we have to do better, and we can do better. But what better place to start than by looking after all the little insects that live all around us? Thank you very much for listening. Thank you so much, Dave. That was a great talk. And I never knew that bees evolved from wasps and that they're they're vegan counterparts.

That was really interesting facts alone. And so we've got quite a lot of questions from the members already coming through. So what we're gonna do, Dave is going to jump into a few of those now. So the first question that we have today is from Caroline. And she asked, what is the single most important thing anyone can do to help insects? Oh, it's so hard to come up with one, isn't it one I haven't mentioned? I'll get in here, which is a pond or any kind of little bit area of freshwater. It's amazing how many insect species will just appear almost overnight.

If you create a little pond doesn't have to be big. Just a an old Belfast sink sunk in the ground is a good start, and you get a whole host of creatures, including beautiful Dragonflies and so on. But obviously there are lots of other things that you can do, and I would really urge you to read my book, The Garden Jungle, for more tips. Our next question is from Michaela, who asked, Should we be planting more native plants to help insects? Yes, absolutely. So I've already infused about dandelions and so on.

Uh, there's There's two reasons to plant native plants. One is that there's, um, some that there's been some scientific studies which show that pollinators slightly prefer natives and non natives, all else being equal. There are exceptions, and it's not a big difference, but it makes sense because our native pollinators would have evolved co adapted with native plants over thousands of years. But there's a bigger reason to grow native plants, and that is that there are lots of insect that are insects that are herbivores, things like butterflies, which need the right food plant for their caterpillars.

Um, So, for example, the orange tip butterfly, which is a gorgeous butterfly on the wing in the spring, is caterpillars will only eat lady's smock and garlic mustard to native plants. If you grow those in your Garden, there's a really good chance you'll get breeding orange tip butterflies. If you don't grow them, there is no chance at all because that's all they leaked. And simply every native plant species you might grow in your Garden will support a whole range of other insect herbivores. So if you want to maximise the diversity of life in your Garden, grow as many natives as you can.

So that's question comes from Carmen from Finland, who was asked, How do I know that the flowers or seeds that I buy from my local Garden centre have not been sprayed with insecticides or pesticides, so you're probably OK growing from seed. There's no guarantee that the parent plant wouldn't have been sprayed with something. There's no way of knowing, Um, but probably the amount in the seed would be very, very small, Um, and an issue that I think this concerns people because they've heard about seeds that have been coated with insecticides, which are commonly used by farmers.

Um, and those can grow into very into toxic plants because the seed has been covered with a big dose of of of poison. Um, but those aren't widely available to Gardeners. So if you buy seeds, wildflower seeds or other seeds from a local Garden centre or whatever, you probably don't need to worry too much about pesticides. What you should worry about is if you buy fully grown plants from Garden centres because they will, almost certainly, unless it's an organic nursery have been sprayed, often with a whole array of different poisons.

So it is actually better to grow from seed. Thank you for that's really interesting. And our next question comes from Helen, who asks which management style is more beneficial for insects, no mo or planting native species of wild flowers, slash trees, et cetera. It's hard to wake up one thing against another. I mean, no mo is basically aiming to try and create a wildflower meadow in your in your Garden, and that's fantastic. Planting native trees is also fantastic for a completely different suite of creatures.

You know, an oak tree, if you have room for an oak tree, will support over 500 different species of insect. Um, so they're both incredibly valuable. Do whatever you you prefer, if you unlike, unless you're very lucky you won't have room for both. Um, but, uh, either is fantastic. We also have a question from Nick, who has said loads and loads of rag watts. No cinnabar caterpillars this year. What is occurring. It's been a really weird year, and I've been worried about the same thing. I have tonnes of rag words in my in my Garden just to my right and not one cinnabar this year.

And as I said at the outset, when I was a kid, I collected cinnabar caterpillars. Um, I it seems to have been quite a bad year for insects. Generally, of course, we know the overall long term trend is down, but this year seems to be unusually bad, and I don't really understand why, because it's the insects normally respond positively to sunny weather. So I'm as worried as you are, but I'm afraid I don't have an explanation at this point, and Christopher has asked, Would it be worth campaigning for the government to set a target for pesticide reduction? Hi, Christopher.

Yeah, it would. I mean, I did start a government petition last year, one of those on their web site asking for a ban on urban pesticides. I think you've got 53,000 signatures and a written response from the government, but they didn't actually do anything sadly. Um, the European Union has got a what they call their farm to fork strategy, uh, in which they are aiming to reduce pesticide use in farming by 50%. Um, it would be great if the UK government were to do something similar. Um, sadly, they don't seem about to do so.

Uh, although we have a new, uh, agriculture bill coming through in a new environment bill, neither of them actually sets any targets at all for reducing pesticide use. Sadly, we have another question that's come in from Imogen. Who has asked, what can I do to help some key hibernating insects in my Garden? Hi, Imogen. Yeah. So provide Don't deadhead for a start. Leave the dry the dried flower stalks of your lavenders. Captain, whatever it is you grow in your Garden because lots of insects will just cling to it through the winter.

Um, provide things like log piles if you've got room or just a little bits of wood. Brush piles in quiet corners. Leave, uh, compost heaps undisturbed through the winter insects. There are so many different ones, it's impossible to generalise as to where they'll be. But minimising tidying up over the autumn and winter is really the best thing you can do to provide a multiple kind of options for them in terms of places to hang out for the winter. What is the best insect attracting plant for The Garden? Oh, there's not really any single one.

But if I had to pick one, I might go for cat mint or comfrey or lavender. Marjoram is fantastic. Sorry you wanted one, but I have to be for our final question comes from Celeste, who has asked. I'm sorry, it's It's a remark. Dung beetles are a protected species in South Africa. Some game part slash reserves have signs up to watch the Beatles crossing the road. Fantastic. I would love it if we had similar things here. I'm glad somewhere in the world. A priest? Yeah, it's in sex. Thank you so much, Dave.

So many take homes today and that was such a fascinating talk. We've really loved having you here on The Garden. It's been an absolute pleasure. I'll do it again and thank you to all our members for joining this. Talk plenty of take homes there and certainly food for thought. We hope to see you at the next Garden gathering, but until then, stay curious.

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