The clothes designed as a lifeline for flying visitors to our gardens

Jim Mason jim at
Thu Mar 3 11:32:51 EST 2011

Thanks Neil!


Here is Karen's website:


Here is a YouTube video about the project: 



Jim Mason, Naturalist

 <mailto:Jim at> Jim at

Great Plains Nature Center

6232 E. 29th Street North

Wichita, KS 67220-2200

316-683-5499 x103 - voice

316-688-9555 - fax



From: Neil Jones [mailto:neil at] 
Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 4:24 AM
To: Leps List; uk-leps at;
Subject: The clothes designed as a lifeline for flying visitors to our


The clothes designed as a lifeline for flying visitors to our gardens

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YOU might usually wear clothing to keep insects away from you in summer.

But one Welsh academic has designed a range of garments specifically
designed to attract bees and butterflies.

Dr Karen Ingham of Swansea Metropolitan University aims to highlight the
plight of bees, butterflies and moths which are in decline in Wales and
across the world with her Pollinator Frocks range.

Each item of her clothing is covered with prints of petals and pollen which
have been enhanced by a microscope and coated with an iridescent sheen -
replicating the way that insects would view the flowers.

The fabrics have also been treated with substances which imitate nectars
such as sucrose, fructose and xantham gum.

Dr Ingham said her eco-fashion attracts some of the world's most endangered
pollinators including the marsh fritillary butterfly, which has become
extinct over much of its former range.

Wales holds about 50% of the surviving populations in the UK.

Current estimates suggest that there are about 190 populations in Wales, 108
in England, 10 in Northern Ireland and about 50 in Scotland.

Dr Ingham, an artist and a reader in art, science and technology
interactions, said: "While the dire predicament of the world's bees has been
widely publicised, the situation facing other pollinating insects is not as
well known.

"Pollinators play a vital role in food production and are tied to the health
and biodiversity of our flora.

"As these insects disappear, so do the dependent plants, meadows and
landscapes which they pollinate.

"The marsh fritillary is critically endangered worldwide because the
wildflowers the caterpillars feed on, devil's bit scabious, have largely
disappeared because of intensive farming, pesticides and development.

"But West Wales is a haven for them."

Food sources required by the fritillary - knapweed, thistles, dandelion, and
ragged robin - are also in rapid decline generally.

"The marsh fritillary represents the kind of problems faced by most of the
world's insect pollinators and this is illustrated in the Fritillary Frock,"
Dr Ingham said.

"I want to show how pollinators rely on plants and how the plants rely on

"For the first time in the world's history more people are living in cities
than in rural areas

"I have made these clothes to encourage urban, fashion-conscious young
people who may not have much engagement with the countryside to find out
about the pollination problems.

"I want to raise public awareness with clothing that merges art, science and

She said intensively mowing lawns has a detrimental effect on bees, hover
flies and butterflies and is the basis of her Daywear for Butterflies frock.

"The best way to help the pollinators is to protect their natural habitats
and to radically reconsider the way we design and utilise our urban spaces
to allow feeding and habitat corridors," she said.

"Some people have made out the dresses will encourage swarms of bees but
that is not the case. A bee landing on one and stinging someone is no more
likely than if they landed on any floral dress," she claimed.

Pollinator Frocks have been tested in New Zealand's Pukekura Botanic
Parklands and Dr Ingham is to showcase a dozen of them at the National
Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire, this summer.

She said a limited collection of the frocks will be sold on Ebay - with 10%
of profits going to charities including Plantlife.

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