Floodplain meadows are rich in wildflowers and are therefore very important habitats for invertebrates such as butterflies, bumblebees, sawflies, dragonflies, damselflies and various beetles. Due to their varied hydrology, with soil-water levels changing across the meadow, they also provide niches for specialist insects in both wet and dry areas with features such as ditches, shallow water-filled depressions and seepages, having their own specialist fauna. This diverse and productive insect fauna can support populations of insect eating birds and other animals
However these insects are not just critical to survival of birds and other animals, the shape of our own future relies on them also. Pollinating insects such as bees and hoverflies have declined since the 1980’s, whilst at the same time insect dependant crops have increased. Without the free service provided by insect pollinators the cost of hand pollination would be huge. There are a wide variety of bees and hoverflies that contribute towards these pollination services and therefore it is crucial to maintain and re-create a wide variety of wildflower habitats in order to retain these vitally important species.
Common blue damselfly. Damselflies and dragonflies are common in floodplain meadows feeding and hunting near rivers and streams (Photo credit: Sonia Newman).
Common blue butterfly. Common blue butterflies are commonly found on meadows feeding on one of their foodplants, birds foot trefoil (Photo credit: Mike Dodd).
(Video credit: Mike Dodd)