3.5 out of 5 stars
If you are fortunate to have a garden but don’t really pay it much attention, then you might not be aware of the insects and other wildlife that inhabit it at the moment. It is a jungle out there, but one that you need to get down on your hands and knees to see properly. Everything from the microbes, worms and ants in the soil, to the insects that pollinate and right up to the small mammals and birds that prey on all of these creatures lower down the food chain.
If you can tear your attention away from the screen and take a few moments to go out into the garden, then we need to understand what makes them tick and some of their lifecycle to help these creatures. For a lot of them, their lives are short, sharp and very often brutal. Oh and weird, very weird. Goulson ventures beneath the soil, into the compost heap and rootles around at the bottom of the pond to find out more about their lives and just how intertwined all layers of life are on this planet.
Insects are the bottom in a very long food chain, if they collapse in numbers then everything further up will suffer and the current evidence is suggesting that that collapse has already started. A garden that is sensitively planted can bring a huge number of insects in and will help all types of wildlife. Some insect-friendly’ plants that are available from garden centres but a crowd-funded PHD project found a cocktail of insecticides, in particular, neonicotinoids, fungicides and other pesticides on them. When Goulson raised this publicly, some organisation have made steps to do something about this, but other organisations who really should know better have maintained a worrying silence about this.
Didn’t feel that this was as good as his previous books, but it is still as well written with the occasional humorous moment. You also get a sense of his anger over the way that some things are continuing with the overwhelming evidence that drenching our land in chemicals, is doing far more harm than companies would have you believe. His greatest ire is for the insect friendly plants that are being marketed, his advice, don’t look for the label, look at the plants that have lots of insects gathering round them and buy those instead and don’t use chemicals on them when you do get them home. He has a strong message that we would be wise to heed. It is worth reading alongside The Bumble Bee Flies Anyway by Kate Bradbury and her account of changing a garden from a wildlife blackhole to a place full of life.