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Latest news and blogs on rebugging

To mark the Royal Entomological Society’s Insect Week (3), the literary campaign group Writers Rebel (1) launches a stunning short film from environmental writer Jay Griffiths and artist-activist Gaby Solly, drawing attention to crashing insect populations across the globe.

Voiced by Sir Mark Rylance and filmed in the ruins of Tintern Abbey, Almost Invisible Angels2 shows people re-connecting with the tiny creatures that form a threatened link in the food chains we all depend on. Griffiths’ message that “Insects are – truly – the angels” celebrates the bounty that insects bring to us dailyand almost invisibly, and urges us to cherish them. A score composed and performed by folk-singer, and Music Declares Emergency9 activist, Sam Lee7, and violinist Anna Phoebe8, echoes the deep grief and poignant hope present in Rylance’s powerful narration.

Watch the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7j4-ysBlvo

 (This link will become public on Monday 20/6.) A high-resolution version suitable for screenings is available, on request.

Jay Griffiths, whose books include Why Rebel and Wild: An Elemental Journey, says:

“Imagine if our food were brought to us by dedicated and almost invisible angels. Imagine them flying, effortless and iridescent, with a beauty more extraordinary than any art of ours can ever replicate. Imagine if those mysterious beings worked freely to keep alive almost the entire living world, including birds, animals and ourselves. I wish that everyone who said they believed in angels would actually believe in insects. When I heard about the collapse of insect populations, I cried for three days. I saw in one awful moment a vision of the desolated world, a devastated wasteland.”

Pollution, monocultures, climate change and insecticides have brought invertebrate populations to an unprecedented low in most countries in the world. In Britain, climate disruption and intensive farming have caused a 60% decline in flying insects in just 20 years, and a global report in the journal Biological Conservation says a quarter of insects could be wiped out within just a decade11.

As well as their essential role in wild eco-systems, insects contribute to the pollination of over 80% of the crop species farmed across Europe. And as populations rise and diets change this reliance is growing. According to the University of Reading’s Sustainable Pollinator Services12, in the last 20 years, the area of cultivated land in the UK dependent on insect pollination has increased by 38%. Whereas the loss of key species will affect the yield of particular crops dependent on these specialist pollinators (such as the reliance of field bean production on the long-tongued bumblebee), the general decline in insect biodiversity, alongside mounting stress caused by climate change and resulting global unrest, impacts food security more broadly.

Almost invisible Angels is being released to coincide with Insect Week, an initiative run by the Royal Entomological Society and partner organisations, such as Buglife13, to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to learn and care more about insects. 

Vicki Hird6, Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and the authorof Rebugging the Planet – The Remarkable Things that Insects (and Other Invertebrates) Do – And Why We Need to Love Them More says:

“Hammered by pollution, climate change and lost habitats, insect numbers and diversity are crashing everywhere. From beetles to butterflies, wasps to worms, these angels need everyone to act, to demand far stronger policies, to eat differently, and to re-bug the planet everywhere.”

Almost Invisible Angels isthe latest in a series of collaborative artworks curated by Writers Rebel. Paint the Land2 brings together creative teams to write bold messages on rural and urban landscapes, highlighting the climate and ecological emergency. Previous pieces have included work by Booker prize-winning writer Ben Okri, Costa prize-winning Monique Roffey, and artist-activists Ackroyd and Harvey, Zac Ove and Ebon Heath.

Artist Gaby Solly, member of Culture Declares Emergency10, says:

“I’ve campaigned and protested about environmental destruction since I was a teenager, and I continue to fight now for the future of my children, and for those of all species on our precious Earth. Societies, such as ours in the UK, have become dangerously divorced from nature, and forgetting this crucial interdependence threatens our very existence. I hope that Almost Invisible Angels will help to open hearts and minds, and encourage others to urgently demand radical, regenerative change from those in power, for all our sakes.”

Musician Anna Phoebe, member of Music Declares Emergency, says:

“I found writing the music for this beautiful film an incredibly intuitive process. I wanted the music to reflect the depth and severity of the eco-crisis, grounding the piece in stark reality, but also connecting the viewer to the abundance and beauty of nature, and to the immense importance of these small insects within the expanse of our planet.”

Information for Editors

AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW

·       Writer, JAY GRIFFITHS: 07967 692 893

·       Artist GABY SOLLY: 07947577503

·       Entomologist VICKI HIRD: 07903478249

·       Composer ANNA PHOEBE: 07932724483

1.     Writers Rebel aims to galvanise writers and the publishing, literary and creative industries to commit to tell the truth about the emergency, and to inspire readers and the public to take action for social and cultural transformation. Read blogs from A L Kennedy, Zadie Smith, Ed Vulliamy, Sir Simon Schama and many others at https://writersrebel.com, and read Jay Griffiths’ blog on her inspiration for Almost Invisible Angels at https://writersrebel.com/insects/

2.     Visit the Paint the Land website for more resources and information about Almost Invisible Angelshttps://www.painttheland.org/almostinvisibleangels

and other campaigningartworks: https://www.painttheland.org/ 

3.     Royal Entomological Society- Insect Weekhttps://www.insectweek.co.uk

4.     Writer, Jay Griffithshttp://jaygriffiths.com

5.     Artist, Gaby Sollyhttps://solly104.wixsite.com/gabysolly

6.     Entomologist, Vicki Hirdhttps://rebuggingtheplanet.org

7.     Musician, Sam Leehttps://samleesong.co.uk

8.     Musician, Anna Phoebehttps://www.annaphoebe.com

9.     Music Declares Emergencyhttps://www.musicdeclares.net

10.  Culture Declares Emergencyhttps://www.culturedeclares.org

11.  Journal of Biological Conservation: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320719317823

12.  Sustainable Pollinators Services, University of Reading: http://www.reading.ac.uk/caer/Project_IPI_Crops/project_ipi_crops_index.html

13.  Buglifewww.buglife.org

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Latest news and blogs on rebugging Tips and Ideas

Make a Rebugging Plan

People often ask me at talks, what should I do? Where do I start as there’s so much that’s needed? Create a Rebugging Plan.

My book is full of many ways to rebug – so getting hold of a copy and reading it is a good start! It covers a whole load of issues and actions – from gardening to clothes shopping…

But where do you start right now? What I suggest is having a simple Rebugging Plan. It doesn’t have to be written down but that can help. With a memory like a sieve, I certainly need to…Your Rebugging Plan could cover four key areas and one action in each (to start with anyway for the next month or two… )

A draft plan

  1. Rebugging peoples attitudes – Share a bug photo or a fun/fascinating bug fact every week to family, friends, colleagues or community – or all of them!
  2. Rebugging your environment – So many to choose from – but how about growing some native wildflowers, making a log pile or letting a weed patch grow. In May, you could do the Plantlife #NoMowMay challenge – save time and and let the bugs live
  3. Rebugging your lifestyle – Try cooking from scratch this week, cutting out the junk food where you can.. Or don’t buy any new clothes/stuff…
  4. Rebugging your politics – Join and get active with one new organisation – like a local one (eg a wildlife Trust or local parks group) or national (eg Buglife or PAN-UK – there is a list in my book). You will be part of a powerful and growing movement for protecting the bugs and their home.

And don’t forget to make it fit and fun

You can design your Rebugging Plan to make sure the actions fit your life and needs. No point setting yourself up to fail or to overdo it. Equally you want to see some results so keep a look out for impact – more flowers in your garden or local green spaces… or your MP responding positively to your campaign letter. And building in fun things to do will help … especially if kids, or reluctant friends or colleagues, are involved.

Like the well organised ants in a colony, creating a Rebugging Plan can be a quick tool to get your work to help the bugs started.

Happy Rebugging

(photo I just took of a flower crab spider catching a hoverfly in my garden in May 2022. One to share to show what amazing creatures are on your doorstep…)

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Latest news and blogs on rebugging

Rebugging The Farm

I have been thinking a lot about the idea of ‘rebugging the farm’ lately. This was partly prompted by a wonderful session I did with two great bug lovers Gillian Burke of BBC SpringWatch fame (who also wrote the forward to my book) and the great dung beetle advocate Sally-Ann Spence @minbeastmayhem and @berrycroft_hub) at the Oxford Farming Conference in January 2022.

It was great fun and so interesting to hear from them both. You can watch the exchange here

Afterwards I was recalling the days I have spent on farms over the years and what I’ve learnt. It takes a fair bit for farmers to embrace the bugs after all these years of trying to remove them. I put a fair bit in the book but there is so much to say and so little space! A few thoughts I want to record here and I may expand on this…

  1. ‘It takes a whole village’ – To rebug the farm takes a whole food community – not only the farmer and their staff…but those that supply inputs to the farm – because these will have to change (pesticide reductions, introducing new tools, knowledge, finance!), and those that buy the produce (because what is produced may look different, less ‘perfect’, or just a different crop to suit the needs of the new system) and everyone in between.
  2. It takes a whole lifetime probably … mistakes will be made and farmers will sometimes have to go backwards to accommodate a less than responsive market.. If the produce buyers demand perfection its hard to leave the bugs alone and bugs are an unreliable bunch at the best of times and we have a climate crisis ahead .. and so on. Dung beetles are a great case in point but can be coaxed back with the right measures, stock, and understanding and will reward your efforts a hundred fold.
  3. It takes a willingness to embrace diversity and more complexity and more knowledge on the whole farm – with more rotations, different breeds of crop or livestock, and a more knowledge-input less chemical approach. Mixing livestock with crops and trees will be more suitable in many situations, moving away from the specialisation we’ve come to expect. Farmer to farmer learning will be key.
  4. It takes a bit of mess – more places the useful bugs can find a refuge, a nesting place, a food source… rebugging usually likes more mess.

But in return

  • It gives more beauty, wildlife and natural rewards which a farmer can bank and bank for the next generation of farmer to come
  • It can save costs – those biological controls may be a bit unreliable but they costs little, will self replicate each year and don’t need to be sprayed around taking machinery, fuel and time. Yields may go down but so will costs and the bottom line may not suffer. You may find more reward in the market place too if you can sell more direct or get an accreditation that means better prices or a more conscientious buyer.
  • It will probably gain you more support from the taxpayer as grants will be based on providing ‘public goods’ like more wildlife and protected water courses. Markets are strong for organic produce which always holds more invertebrates because the organic farmer needs them to do the work – keeping pests at bay and building soil fertility.

Just a few thoughts on why rebugging the farm is a thing..

There are many more great experts out there too willing and able to share. I will post some contacts but for starters

Innovate Farmers

Soil Association

Organic Farmers and Growers

Organic Research Centre

Nature Friendly Farmers Network

Pesticides Action Network UK

John Cherry’s farm, Hertfordshire

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Latest news and blogs on rebugging

Thoughts on launching a book on bugs

A few thoughts on what it has been like to launch, like a leaping flea, into the world of book interviews, talks and podcasts on Rebugging the Planet.

Admittedly it’s not been a hard graft to spend time talking about something I love. And most interviewers (especially the Sustainababble crew) are fun to talk to. I’ve probably done about 12, and written at least 15 articles so far. I even found myself advising the good folk of Wisconsin, USA, on live radio how to deal with tick problems. A few observations:

  1. I was right. People do. Like. bugs. And do get the Rebugging your attitude idea real quick. Only a few bugs are a problem. Love or at least respect the rest.
  2. I am a bit shocked at how much I forgot to put in the book. Exciting interactions with bugs I only recalled after the book went to the printers and folk starting interviewing me. It was their questions that opened the dark tunnels of my mind. A termite would have found this far quicker.
  3. I hope everyone realises that the bleak ‘what if we don’t stop harming the bugs’ bit at the beginning is short. I quickly get positive in
  4. Its been rewarding to be asked about the hard stuff – why on earth talk about poverty and inequality and politics. It’s my bread and butter and we need more people engaged on politics and power. Lobbying can make steps. Movements make real change and lead to change the bold actions by governments everywhere.
  5. Many people want to know what they can do in their garden.. If everyone with a garden or yard did do something … I have calculated we’d create 50% more* space for bugs (the green corridors, food, refuges, healthy soil, mating and nesting hideouts they need etc).
  6. I am no photographer. Seriously. I have no skills. But I’ve loved sharing the pics I’ve taken with my smartphone in my garden to new audiences and encouraging everyone to snap, zoom in, and see how beautiful, funny, and extraordinarily designed bugs are.

It’s sobering to write this on the eve of the mega international United Nations climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021. This huge event will, in many ways, determine the fate of the human race, and much of the natural world. Good luck to all the negotiators, activists, protestors going there. Leaders could get it so wrong.. too little action too late so the weather extremes, sea level rise and more all happen more and faster… or they could push the wrong actions that fail and/or create more problems than they solve (industrial biomass I am looking at you).

Climate crisis is something we can all now take action on. We can also all get rebugging – help the biodiversity side of the equation. Lots of tips in all parts of my book and great organisations to ask in the last chapter.

Do come hear me at Stamfords, London on 11 November or winter Hay in Wales 28th and more to come.

Nb Time zones. Arggg. When doing US interviews across several time zones – and add in our daylight savings…well a few almost missed recordings But thanks to Annie at OTB I can use this world time buddy now.

*not really.

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Latest news and blogs on rebugging

Podcasts, blogs and interviews on rebugging

I will update this with my latests podcasts about the book and interviews:

A quick video of me introducing my book.

I had a fantastic time in conversation with Gillian Burke fromBBC SpringWatch and Sally-Ann Spence – farmer and entomologist expert, at the Oxford Real Farming Conference – you can watch it here with all the other great sessions or below.

I recently spoke at the Hay Festival Winter Weekend and you should be able to subscribe and watch it here.

Loved talking to the Wild Fed Podcast in November

A great fun interview with the Sustainababble crew.

Interview on the Permaculture Podcast Website. Or on popular podcast platforms: iTunes Spotify Stitcher.

I did a great Wisconsin public Radio phone in – fun chat on ticks and much more!

https://www.lovereadinglitfest.com/previews/vicki-hird-masterclass-event-preview link to my recent interview for LOVEreading LitFest. With Pestival founder Bridget Nicholas. Do have a listen.

On the fabulous ‘From what if to what next’ podcast with Rob Hopkins and Matt Shardlow of Buglife – new episode exploring ‘What if the bugs bounced back?‘ https://t.co/5uLVDGGxwZ . https://t.co/5uLVDGGxwZ

On the FARMGATE podcast talking bugs and farm policy

the Urban Farmer in the US interviewed me for his show twice maybe!

For the love of Bugs – in the Pesticide Action Network website

Go organic Blog Why we should all be ‘rebugging’ the planet

Its all about food – IT’S ALL ABOUT FOOD podcast

My Q &A with A great Read – https://agreatread.co.uk/blog/qa-with-vicki-hird-author-of-rebugging-the-planet/

A podcast with the Food Chain Radio in the US

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Background

Why I wrote Rebugging the Planet

OK so this book is about the remarkable importance of the spineless of this earth, why we should help them and how. It started life as a set of fun tips for rebugging which I wrote on my phone on a long journey somewhere. The list got longer, more detailed and more political. We can’t just make small changes – we need to affect the systems at fault from food supply change, to global economics. And I could not help myself.

Somehow, as is often the way with words, it developed into a bigger idea which the publisher Chelsea Green seemed to like.

It has been a big learning curve for me in writing this whilst also working on my regular job of campaigning and trying the influence the creation of a whole new set of farm and environment policies.

I thought I knew a fair bit when I started. I’ve kept a good eye on what’s happening in the invertebrate worlds through reading and keeping watch of research developments especially via the Royal Society of Entomology. But as i delved further, I was freshly amazed by how incredible the tiny creatures of this world are. How termites build.. how insects have incredible ways of working with plants.. by the impact of climate change on spiders.. by the key role tiny wood ants can play in keeping a forest healthy. The task was a delight and also daunting. How to chose what to include? What invertebrates to do us and what we can learn from them was big enough. But it was also good to develop more the ideas on what we can do to help, in a whole heap of ways from small to huge

My book could never shirk the hard stuff. It’s not only about planting native flowers and cutting out the chemicals … but about what you eat and wear, how you get political with a small ‘p’ to stop systemic problems that harm bugs. I could not fail to look at overconsumption and waste, and not just of food (my pet area) but clothes and other products too. And inevitably, the unacceptable power of global agro-chemical companies and grain traders as well as poverty and inequality. It all matters to bugs.

But there are lots of good tips and facts too – what we can learn from bugs – and links to useful organisations and guides to get you rebugging in whatever way you can.

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Latest news and blogs on rebugging

Rebugging the Planet – book now available!

Welcome to my ‘rebugging the planet’ website. I am adding to it all the time and do follow me on Twitter and Instagram for news.

This is to introduce you to my new book ‘Rebugging the Planet: The Remarkable Things that Insects (and Other Invertebrates) Do – And Why We Need to Love Them More‘. The book is now available in all good bookshops in the UK, US and globally. See some initial reviews here.

The Audio book is also available here (5+ hours). And you can find events, upcoming talks I am doing here. Do send any comments on the book, website or on bugs!

looking after the small creatures means looking after ourselves too

‘Rebugging the Planet’ gives you lots of tips as well as stories of the incredible bugs in our lives.

Where you can order

UK links

Now available on bookshop.Org.

ChelseaGreen.co.uk

Amazon.co.uk

Hive

Waterstones

USA links

ChelseaGreen.com https://www.chelseagreen.com/product/rebugging-the-planet/

Amazon.com

Bookshop.org

World links

Book Depository

Wordery

Very excited to see hard copies 10 June 2021- uncorrected proofs.

Latest version of front and back cover. Looking very lovely. Great design.

Here a a few photos of the book launch on 16 September in the Stoke Newington bookshop. And my son finding it the next day in a Glasgow bookshop.