BUGLIFE is asking people to think hard before they pull ragwort from local fields and meadows.
Ragwort has been implicated in the poisoning of horses and other grazing animals, though poisoning is actually much rarer than people realise and generally occurs when ragwort has been cut within a hay crop and fed to animals.
Ragwort in pasture is not a serious threat to grazing stock, horses and cattle have lived alongside ragwort for millennia.
Unfortunately misunderstandings of the threat posed by ragwort results in much formal and informal ragwort pulling in places deemed unnecessary by the Ragwort Control Act. This has major implications for pollinating insects which rely heavily on ragwort flowers in certain weeks of the summer.
It really does defy belief when you see some of the unnecessary and ill-informed ragwort pulling that goes on in the countryside, and it can result in serious damage to key wildlife sites, as well as reducing the capacity of the landscape to support healthy populations of pollinators such as bees, hoverflies and butterflies.
I’d urge people to read the facts first before pulling ragwort, because pollinators are having a rough time and need our help.
Steven Falk, Buglife entomologist, Bug House, Ham Lane, Orton Waterville, Peterborough