This is a tough time to be an invertebrate. Currently, millions of species are likely to be declining at a rate that far exceeds their background rate of extinction. Though more nuanced than the media sometimes suggests ("GET READY FOR THE INSECTAGEDDON!"), insects and their invertebrate allies really do appear to be in genuine trouble.
So what can we do? Well, one thing we could do all consider is a pond. If more of us made space for clean freshwater pond in our backyards and urban spaces, we could support healthier and more resilient populations of freshwater invertebrates, in turn bolstering the populations of amphibians, reptiles and mammals (including bats) that depend upon them for food.
To help promote this idea in the UK, I've created a rainwater-filled sink and planted it up in my outdoor space. My plan is to document every single visitor to this wildlife space over the next six months, commentating each week on the simple succession of this outdoor space. You can follow me on Twitter (@juleslhoward) or Instagram (@juleshoward_zoology) or check out #pondplaylist to see the latest discoveries. This will form the basis of a podcast starting in April (called 'The Pond Play List') and a variety of public events and festivals throughout 2019.
"CAN WE HELP?"
YES! You can help by adding your own wildlife pond (big or small) to your backyard space and sharing with me your findings and your discoveries throughout the year. The Wildlife Trust are helping me do this: each Thursday between 6pm and 7pm from April to mid-July I'll be taking over their Twitter feed to answer questions and help encourage more people to do the same. Check out @wildlifetrusts or the hashtag #WildAboutPonds or make contact with me at @juleslhoward to tell me how you're getting on.
You can submit your new pond to the Wild About Gardens website for their lovely online map of pond projects.
Thanks for your kind words of support you can offer as this exciting project takes root!
Cheers - more soon, Jules
PLEASE NOTE: This is a UK-only project. In many tropical and sub-tropical countries adding small pools of freshwater to backyard and garden spaces is not advised because of the threat of breeding disease-carrying mosquitoes.