Planet-saving reasons we should fight our fear of bugs

By the end of the century, up to 40% of the world’s insect species may be extinct, so it’s critical to appreciate how conserving creepie-crawlies and their ecosystems is paramount to our own survival, says environmentalist Ed Crowther of My Square Metre.

From crop pollination to maintaining soil health, recycling nutrients and being earth’s natural cleaners – insects are often underestimated for the vital work that they do, with many species misunderstood and feared.

Spiders, worms, wasps, moths, beetles and flies are all common examples of bugs which make people recoil. These insects make up approximately 70% of all living species (excluding plants, fungi and microbes.1)

Ed, the founder of My Square Metre, identifies often overlooked daily carbon-producing activities, such as social media scrolling and micro-offsets activity through wildflower planting on designated meadows, which are protected for 30 years to enable biodiversity to thrive.

Wildflower planting is a highly effective offsetting option, as wildflowers sequester carbon within the first year of planting, in comparison to tree planting which can take years. One square metre of wildflowers can provide enough food for 24 bees each year, for 30 years. However, 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost since the second world war, with 53% of native plants gone in the last 20 years, due to human activity.2

Ed says, “It’s incredible to witness how much we can take our planet for granted, including the natural organisms that are necessary for making our environment run so smoothly.

“Boosting biodiversity is of fundamental importance at a time where so much is changing on our planet, especially with the negative effects of climate change. Bugs play a vital role in our essential life processes and without them, we would see a sharp decline in natural habitats.”

Top four reasons why we should embrace the bugs

1. Pollination

84% of EU crops and 80% of wildflowers rely on insect pollination and the importance of pollinators cannot be underestimated. To put it into perspective, we rely on pollinators for one in three mouthfuls of our food.3 Plants rely on insects for pollination, to complete the reproductive cycle and without helpful bumblebees, wasps, beetles, butterflies and hoverflies visiting flowers, we would see a quick decline in the general flower population of countryside and gardens.

Our favourite foods and fruits would also be gone – such as avocados, chocolate, blueberries, strawberries, apples, carrots, grapes, pears, and peanuts. If there aren’t enough wild pollinators for the crops needed by our growing population, the future looks bleak.

2. Pest control

Pests that can destroy crop plants only make up 1% of species – but predatory insects such as spiders, beetles, ladybirds and wasps are good little helpers when it comes to crop protection.4

While spraying the garden with pesticides can help manage them, it’s better to attract natural hunters to create an easily manageable ecosystem in your garden, wildlife patch or business site, as these natural pest controllers can ensure the hard work is done for you. Avoiding pesticide sprays will help to encourage these insects to a natural habitat, alongside researching herbs and flowers that can attract certain types.5

3. Soil health

Healthy soil is key for thriving crops and wildlife and one of the best bugs for ensuring soil is at its best, is the earthworm. Acting as a backbone for compost and soil ecosystems, earthworms contribute to the vitality of the soil – enhancing its structure and fertility. They act as soil engineers, consuming organic matter and transforming it into nutrient-dense castings – which helps the soil absorb nutrition, increasing its fertility.6

Other team players include beetles which contribute to a healthy ecosystem. The presence of ground beetles and larvae also show that soil is in a good state, as it’s a sign of a well maintained and moist environment. Adult beetles and larvae feed on decaying plant matter within compost heaps, which speeds up the transformation of compost into soil which is nutrient rich.7

4. Cleaning up

Bugs play a fundamental role in cleaning up nature through the role of decomposition – a vital, albeit slightly morbid element of any ecosystem. Worms, beetles, and termites contribute to the natural process – consuming and breaking down dead organic matter, which is then turned into nutrients used for plants and fertilisation. Eggs once laid by flies can also help with the decomposition process once hatched, speeding up the process. Without this decomposition function, the lifecycle wouldn’t be sustainable, and it plays a pivotal role in the survival of our planet and ecosystem.8

Calculate how many carbon emissions you can offset monthly here.

Plant a wildflower meadow

My Square Metre is a new online carbon calculator, which identifies often overlooked daily carbon-producing activities and offsets through wildflower planting.

It can work out carbon usage for activities from TikTok scrolling to how much tea and coffee we’re consuming. It equates that carbon to a precise wildflower offset solution with a cost within seconds.

Founder Ed Crowther says, that using wildflower planting to offset carbon is highly effective as wildflowers sequester carbon within the first year of planting, in comparison to tree planting which can take years.

He identified that when people consider personal or business carbon production, the focus is almost always on transport, utilities or paper.

More everyday social activities – which have rapidly grown over the last 10-15 years – were not being considered, such as social media use, content creation, emails, video meetings and hot drinks.

Once the carbon calculator has been used, the user can offset with a one off or monthly payment for the wildflower planting and the team at My Square Metre will do the rest.

They source the land, find out what it needs to make it ideal for wildflower growth, prepare it and then plant. When uses by a square meter or more of wildflower planting, it is protected by My Square Metre for a minimum of 30 years, giving habitats time to start, flourish and mature, enabling real change to biodiversity.

Ed says, “My Square Metre was born out of a love for biodiversity and an idea to offer something that was missing in the market. While looking at other offerings, there was very little that combined supporting biodiversity and carbon reduction at the same time, and a lot of the tools were quite blunt i.e. what industry are you in x how many employees = this much CO2.

“I wanted to give people the option to micro offset their actions, ensuring traceability and transparency. For our users, we hope to be a good resource to help them lower their environmental impact and they get full transparency, they know the location of their wildflowers and the exact amount of carbon being offset.”


Plant Atlas 2020, published by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. A 20-year research project

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