Posted on 28 May, 2017Comments (0)

Wildlife Support & Conservation

Wildlife Support & Conservation

Children’s Art Competition: Over 170 entries have been received from primary and preschool children between the age of two and eleven years of age. Many thanks to all the teachers who helped make this possible! Children used their imaginations and drew or painted pictures of trees, and wildlife. Some entries are very interesting and creative.

Ticks: As we know, fleas and ticks can be a problem for pet animals, farm animals and wildlife, but they can also be misery for adults and children, and can be picked up whilst exploring woodland and heath land, or simply walking along footpaths in our villages.

A very small tick, the size of a small seed, can cause an extremely serious and debilitating disease known as Lyme disease which causes joint pain and stiffness, extreme fatigue, and sometimes a rash can appear. In the UK many doctors are not aware of the seriousness of the disease and how Lyme Borreliosis, caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium, has spread across Europe, or that a patient may never make a full recovery.

However, most agree that in its early stages antibiotics will help, so an early diagnosis is essential. Infected ticks are responsible for spreading the disease by feeding on human blood. They are often found in woodland and heath land, areas where animals carrying ticks usually live. Ticks are most active in the warmer months and prefer moist areas with long grass or thick vegetation. Like many other small insects, due to warmer winters and Climate Change, more now survive the winter to breed more profusely in the spring. It is important to wear protective clothing, long trousers and socks that cover the ankles, especially, when walking or rambling in the countryside, and to seek immediate medical advice if a tick is found anywhere on the body. I have met parents of a child living in NE Hampshire who has been affected by this disease, so I feel it is important to flag it up! ‘Worldwide Lyme Disease Protest 2017 is being organised in London after the Election. There is an online petition, the ’38 Degrees Petition’ if anyone would like to sign.

Protecting trees and hedges: We continue to work with residents to try and protect trees and hedges. Trees, especially mature trees, are impossible to replace and provide an essential habitat for wildlife, as well as an important food source, especially for Bats seen flying beneath tree canopies preying on flying insects when they emerge from hibernation in early Spring. We are also keen to protect ancient Yew trees and two very prominent Monkey Puzzle trees which have become landmarks in gardens in Blackberry Lane, and on the A31 in Four Marks.

Oak trees are long-lived native trees (i.e. native to the UK and most of Europe) and probably the best known and loved tree in England. There are two types, the Sessile Oak and the Pedunculate Oak. The Oak produces male flowers similar to drooping catkins. The female flowers are much smaller. Their pollen is dispersed by the wind. When fertilised they will become acorns. Oak timber has been used for ship building and for house building, and still used for floors, staircases and furniture.

Oak trees are also important trees on our verges especially for our local, rare orchids, the Violet Helleborine, Epipactus Purpurata. Both roadside verges and field margins or buffer strips bordering fields are important wildlife habitats, especially for pollinators and other wildlife. If a tree has to be felled, the remaining trunk can be carved into an interesting and exciting sculpture, but always important to plant another tree nearby if possible.

Horse Chestnut trees in the UK are often planted as ornamental trees in parks and gardens. They are well known for their beautiful pink or white flowers. It bears the Horse Chestnut, the conker, and many readers will recall conker competitions at school. Sadly these trees are susceptible to attack called Guignardia aesculi, or leaf blotch fungus which may cause some leaves to drop early, but it rarely results in significant damage to the tree itself.

Infection of the larvae of the caterpillars of a small moth can have a much greater impact. The caterpillars feed on the leaves and these trees can suffer severe infestations and lose most of their leaves prematurely.

Butterflies: Our passion for butterflies has a long history and the Victorians were keen on catching them for their collections. Matthew Oates is a keen enthusiast and proudly carries on the work of amateur naturalists to entice some rarer butterflies towards his camera, e.g. the Emperor.

Three quarters of all UK butterflies are now in decline, but they are a very good indicator species and are now emerging earlier. Birds hatch their chicks when caterpillars emerge, but thankfully they are very well camouflaged. Of course, when it comes to saving our butterflies, caterpillars are key, so it is now important to find the right food plant for them.

Country estates provide excellent habitats for them, as wood piles and barns are excellent for hibernating butterflies. The Brimstone is usually the first to appear, followed by the Red Admiral and Peacock. The Comma and Holly Blue are moving north, but the Painted Lady migrates much further than we thought. They often appear in Morocco in fields full of thistles.

The Mountain Ringlet is found in Scotland, but becoming rare due again to Climate Change, and loss of plants on which they feed. The pressure on our land is enormous, and farmland especially for the Large Blue.

This butterfly relies on sheep and farm animals for survival. Their young are adopted by ants which are vital to the butterfly, and farm animals keep the grass short for the ants.

How do we inspire people to care?

Butterflies can help children re-engage with the natural world. They are symbols of hope and transformation, even on brown field sites. If most are developed the nettles will be lost and so will the Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Greyling and Dingy Skipper species.

Nick Walker is a street artist and paints butterflies in some grey and uninteresting places in our towns and cities. Images of butterflies are important and people want to wear them on their clothing, and some have butterfly tattoos!

Diana Tennyson

[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]

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