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Wiley Sow Wildflowers in West Wittering

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

By Louise Barnetson

A team from publishing company, Wiley, joined us in March for a corporate volunteering day in West Wittering. As part of the Wittering Area Community Conservation Project, we have been working with West Wittering Parish Council to improve biodiversity in the parish. The green area behind the bus stop on Rookwood Road was identified as a site that could become a little more 'wild' in order to benefit wildlife. The Wittering Area Community Conservation Project is funded by the Woodger Trust.


Last year the strimmers and mowers were put away and this area was left to grow wild to see what popped up. Around 30 different plant species were identified in Spring 2022 but we thought the site could become a real haven for insect species with a little more floral diversity.

A team of 9 hardy individuals from Wiley's Chichester office spent the day scraping up some of the grass, raking the soil, and sowing wildflower seeds in this area, as well as creating log piles as additional habitat for invertebrates.


Why Help Insects?

The world's insect population is suffering from huge decline. A report published in 2022 revealed that the UK's flying insect population has declined by as much as 60% in the last 20 years. It was concluded that current rates of decline could lead to the extinction of 41% of the world’s insect species over the next few decades. The main causes of insect decline are the loss and degradation of habitat, climate change, and the excessive use of pesticides and herbicides. For more information see the excellent BugLife website.


You can help insects by providing insect-friendly areas in your garden such as leaving a log pile, creating a bug hotel, growing wildflowers, planting fruiting trees, leaving an area to grow wild, putting in a pond, or having a compost heap. And don't use pesticides or weed killer! If you don't have much space then consider using a hanging basket or patio pot to grow wildflowers. If you don't have a garden perhaps you know of a green space at your local school or workplace or local area that could be improved for wildlife?


Log Piles

We had removed an invasive non-native tree from the area and the logs and sticks were cut up to form the log piles shown below. A small pile of logs can support a range of different invertebrates as a food source for detritivores (such as millipedes and woodlice) and a shelter for over-wintering or hibernating insects. It may also be used by small mammals, reptiles and amphibians as shelter or for hunting for invertebrates. Many bird species also eat invertebrates so improving habitat for bugs also helps our local birds, including some of our favourite garden birds such as the Robin, Blackbird, and Thrush.


It's easy to create a log pile in your garden - even just a small pile of hedge trimmings could provide a home for wildlife.


Wildflowers

The Wiley team worked in three different areas to remove the grass using spades and forks, then raked over the dug-over areas before mixing wildlfower seed with sand and sprinkling it over the bare ground. The next task was to do the 'wildflower shuffle dance' - which involves moving your feet slowly over the area to ensure the seeds get good contact with the soil. Additional dance moves are optional!


Wildflowers provide pollen and nectar for pollinators such as bees, butterflies and moths. They also provide food in the form of their leaves and seeds for a multitude of invertebrates and form an important part of many organisms' lifecycles. For example, the beautiful Orange-tip Butterfly is dependent on the Lady's Smock or Cuckoo flower, which grows in damp areas and around ponds. The caterpillars of the Orange-tip Butterfly feed mainly on the developing seedpods of the Cuckoo flower, so without the Cuckoo flower the butterflies cannot reproduce. Did you know that different Bumblebee species have different length tongues and so feed from different shaped flowers? The Garden Bumblebee has a long tongue and prefers deep flowers such as honeysuckle and foxglove. A wide variety of different native wildflowers, that flower at different times of year, will support the largest range of insects.

Above: Removing the grass.

Above: Raking the soil.

Above: Sprinkling the seed.

Above: the Wildflower Shuffle Dance.


The recent mix of rain and sunshine should get our seeds off to a good start. We look forward to seeing more wildflowers growing here this summer and more insect life too.


If you'd like to volunteer with us to help wildlife, please sign up here: https://www.mwhg.org.uk/volunteer


If your organisation would like to organise a corporate volunteering day then please contact us using this form: https://www.mwhg.org.uk/contact-us


We look forward to hearing from you!







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