This is the time of year when I see most insects. Dragonflies, damsel flies and demoiselle flies over the water. Hungry, blood-seeking insects at twilight. There have been unidentifiable red moths (too fast, too far away). I’ve seen my first stripy caterpillars – who will grow up to be cinnabar moths. I’ve rescued various other caterpillars I couldn’t identify, I’ve put bees safely onto flowers, and got out of the way of passing beetles. It’s busy out there.

Of all the native wild things, insects are the ones I have the most trouble identifying. There’s so many of them. I can identify a grasshopper, but not which kind of grasshopper it is – and there are many. I can only reliably identify a couple of bee species. I know a handful of beetles and the rest are little scuttling mysteries. I have some idea about butterflies, am rubbish at moths, and have no clue about flies. I try to learn a few new names every year but at this rate I will remain embarrassed by my ignorance for the rest of my life.

As a child I was squeamish about insects. We do not welcome them – granted there are reasons for this. Some of them bite and sting or drink your blood. Some carry diseases. Some will cheerfully dismantle your stuff given half a chance (moths, I am looking at you...). Many however are greatly benevolent and doing us considerable good. Many are far less of a risk to us than we tend to assume.

We have desperately unsustainable farming practices that kill insects as part of food production. Our insect populations around the world are dwindling. Pesticides do not distinguish between insects who eat crops, and insects who pollinate, or who eat other insects. We need to start valuing and respecting insects rather than treating them as a problem to eliminate. Their loss will do us far more harm than their presence ever did.

If you want to learn more about identifying common UK insects, The Woodland Trust has some great resources -