What an excellent article by Damian Carrington (‘Insect apocalypse’ poses risk to all life on Earth, conservationists warn, 13 November). The tax on pesticides is a sound idea, which could then be used to fund specific circumstances. As a farm manager in the 1970s in Essex, I would observe swarms of aphids feeding on the winter wheat crop. They had blown on an easterly wind from the near continent.

It was easy to apply an aphicide to the wheat, but in reality it was an insecticide. This did considerable harm to the hives of bees placed on the headlands of the beanfields to pollinate the crop. The person operating the sprayer also ended up with a thumping headache.

This was repeated on the Isle of Axholme. I was working as an agriculturalist in that terrible drought year of 1976. I recall the plague of ladybirds feeding on the aphids, and the complaints of the tourists bitten on the beaches. My advice to the farmers, at the time, was apply an aphicide to avoid loss of yield. It would have been ecologically sound if the farmers had been compensated for their estimated loss, tolerated the poor crop and not used the insecticide. The word ecology just did not exist in my vocabulary at the time.
David Batley
Hertford, Hertfordshire

Saving our insects isn’t rocket science. I am amazed that garden centres and shops are still filled with pesticides and herbicides. While I appreciate there is an argument that they are needed by farmers, albeit a shortsighted one, there is absolutely no need for them to be used by home gardeners. Their lives will be fine if all chemicals were removed immediately, even if it meant that their dahlias got nibbled or dandelions grew on their lawns.

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Second, all plants sold to home users must become chemical-free. It is not widely known that most of the bulbs and flowers sold by garden centres and supermarkets have been dowsed in chemicals. Even those marked “bee friendly” risk endangering the lives of the pollinators they are supposed to be supporting. This is just the start, but many such “sacrifices” are not difficult if we all do them.
Charles Harris
London

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