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Late mowing and nature reserves are good for
bees and grasshoppers

When fields are left uncut and natural areas are left, the number of wild bees and grasshoppers increases. These simple measures can make a valuable contribution to maintaining biodiversity, say ecologists from the University of Bern. Apparently, the green meadows still provide nectar and pollen when other sources have disappeared. The landscape becomes more varied and biodiversity increases.

The studies in brief

In two studies, the Swiss scientists attempted to discover how biodiversity can be increased in extensively used meadows, using the simplest possible measures. To do this they compared the biodiversity of bees and grasshoppers they found in mowed fields in 12 locations in central Switzerland. All the fields were mowed in different ways. In the first variant, the farmers left 10% to 20% of the meadows uncut, to give the insects a more natural area. These measures had a positive effect on the number and diversity of wild bees. After a year, the number of bees had increased by 36%. As for the grasshoppers, the total number doubled after a two-year period. The total biodiversity of this group of insects had increased by almost a quarter compared to fields which had been completely mowed.

In the second variant, fields were mowed a month later than usual, the usual date of 15th June was changed to 15th July. These measures also had a positive effect on the biodiversity – particularly the grasshopper population. Compared with the conventionally mown meadows, biodiversity increased five-fold. This also had a beneficial effect on the development of other animals such as birds and bats, which feed on these insects.

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de