Earlier this year for my birthday, I decided to buy myself a water lily. I ordered it online from Penlan Perennials.
My little lily arrived, was duly planted, and promptly withered and died. When moving house we were about to fling it out but realised that under the rotten mess, there were new shoots. So the lily moved house with us. Then sat in a plastic bag in the bathroom for about a week. Then got dumped in plant pot with an inch of water over it.
Then, for no logical reason, it decided to fight like a muthafuka!
To celebrate this little clear water revival we had going, I decided we needed biodiversity. Sadly the aquatic frogs in the fish shop were too delicate for al fresco living and the turtles were bought and returned within 12 hours. I fulfilled a childhood dream of having turtles, but they tried to eat the lily.
I know. Duh!
I then decided to take my little fish net, a glass jar and a reluctant husband (who eventually had more fun that he’ll admit) down to Parc Ciutadella to gather pond creatures instead.
My ambitions were small. A water boatman, pond skater, water beetle or similar. I had no hopes of tadpoles or dragonfly larvae.
What we found instead was nothing but barren ponds. Even the big boating pond appeared to have nothing more than fish, turtles and crayfish (the cockroaches of the fresh water world). No insects. Zilch!
I’m naively shocked. Yes this is in the middle of a large crowded city, and we’ve made no place for the poor wee buggers, but insects are tenacious. They don’t need a gilded invitation or the red carpet rolled out. They turn up, steal your spot on the couch, kick their shoes off, switch the telly on and ask for a beer.
A near complete absence of the single most important section of the ecosystem, from what I assumed was a natural oasis (park pond) makes me suspect the good city of Barcelona is waging chemical warfare on our little amigos.
Internet research threw up very little on treatment of water for public ponds. You can read the latest on pond conservation at the European Pond Conservation Network, but it’s very boffin (UK Slang for scientist) orientated and has no papers on urban conservation. Boo!
One study which does look promising is the Reading Urban Pond Project by students at Reading University. The students have created several ponds in the city of Reading and then left them as blank canvases. They are now going to monitor nature’s ability to populate these ponds and what level of biodiversity can be achieved by simply letting it be.
Have I revealed too much of my inner geek with this post?
It’s not all topless lesbians and waking up in a nest of beer cans people, it’s also about making space for the frogs.
Start your biodiversity patch today! Bring back insects to Barcelona!