It’s all very well planting flowers in our gardens and nature reserves to attract and sustain pollinating insects but once the bees and moths are done in our patch they need to move on to the next. And insects are no better than mammals at crossing roads or railway lines safely.

Equally, huge tracts of cultivated farm land (frequently with few insect-friendly plants) are simply obstacles in their way.

On the other hand, well-managed road, rail and cycleway verges, or canal- and riverbanks can not only make some of the best havens for wildlife, but link up other areas to ease the insects’ passage between wildflower-rich areas for their next feed. Railway edges and motorway shoulders and reservations have the added advantage of very limited human access, making them even safer for wildlife or all kinds – provided they are managed well. Particularly, it is important that cutting is only done at appropriate times of year – not before seeds have ripened, so that the next generation of flowering is protected.

Species such as ragwort are important to a wide range of insects including the brightly coloured cinnabar moth, and it is an exceptional provider of nectar and pollen late in the season. Managed sensitively by highways authorities when necessary, ragwort can be left on road- or railside verges where there is no stock to be harmed by it. Places like motorway verges are wide enough for some quite big trees, as well as shrubs and grassland, so can make a very varied habitat. They’re often built up from the soil that was dug up when the road was laid, so might contain rubble, rock, or waste construction material and be relatively infertile – this is perfect for a lot of wildflower species.

Of course transport corridors are not the only way that pollinators can get safely from place to place; hHedges along field boundaries are critical too and this is why landowners should be encouraged to retain them, and a few untidy field corners, rather than put in fences – even though those might allow a little more space for livestock or crops. And although it is important to keep drainage ditches clear enough to allow effective drainage, their banks can still be allowed to remain wild enough to form great havens for pollinating insects (as well as protecting the banks against erosion, and sheltering aquatic mammals along the watercourse). Hemp agrimony loves damp conditions and insects love it; sSeveral species of willows thrive on riverbanks and with their early spring flowers are a great source of nectar for insects before many plants are blooming.

It isn’t just the big landowners who have their part to play; we can make a difference by not replacing our garden’s hedges with ‘tidy’ fences and by not cutting our lawns too often. If we are to save our pollinators, each and every one of us must take a little responsibility. We can’t afford to think we can leave it to someone else, because that person might not do anything either.