The GWCT has been involved in studies on invertebrates, particularly beneficial insects for over 40 years. The earliest members of the research team were entomologists working in Sussex, studying the insect groups eaten by newly hatched grey partridge chicks. Some of these insects lead double lives and can also act as pest natural enemies. Some spiders and beetles eaten by chicks, themselves eat slugs, aphids and other pests in our arable crops. We have created habitats for these beneficial insects on farms (beetle banks) and measured how vulnerable they are to insecticides.

We have also studied farmland butterflies, particularly how they are affected by not spraying insecticides at the edges of our crops. This work was some of the first work on butterflies undertaken on farmed land.

Cereal invertebrates

Every year we sample the invertebrates in approximately 100 cereal fields and record changes in abundance.


Many pollinating insects have declined in abundance in recent decades. This could have ecological effects on other wildlife such as fruit-eating birds if there are fewer hedgerow fruits.

Pest natural enemies

Many different species of invertebrates contribute to the control of crop pests, and we have conducted studies looking at their effectiveness and how to encourage them, starting off with beetle banks in the 1980s.

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