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Weeds grow in gardens like it or not, but did you know that some common weeds are twice as likely to attract bees as wildflowers? It’s time to put away your weed pullers…
According to new research from the University of Sussex, ‘dangerous’ weeds like ragwort, thistles and docks are of underappreciated value in supporting our natural biodiversity – and help some of the highest rated insects to thrive.
As part of the study, the researchers conducted a field study in East Sussex where they analyzed the three common weeds, along with other wildflowers. They compared the biodiversity of plants classified as noxious weeds and found that four times as many pollinator species have been recorded visiting weeds compared to wildflowers.
“There is now a substantial body of evidence that shows that weeds are a vitally important resource for pollinators,” said study author Dr Nicholas Balfour. MailOnline.
“All three insect-pollinated species have open flowers that provide access to a wide variety of pollinator species, and they produce, on average, four times more nectar sugar than DEFRA-recommended plant species. Pollinators are essential for maintaining global biodiversity, ecosystem resilience and agricultural production.”
While the research highlighted good news, the researchers also said they were very concerned about the decline of pollinators and the long-term decline of flowers in our landscapes.
“We are aware that agricultural weeds can lead to yield losses in arable land and pasture,” adds Dr Nicholas. “However, we have shown that they can also be of great value to flower-visiting and herbivorous insects – and should not be underestimated when it comes to supporting our natural biodiversity.”
We may be eliminating weeds from our flower beds and lawns quickly, but they are really important for the insects that visit the flowers.
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