Mak­ing room for win­ter bugs

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

WHILE I will con­tinue to beat the drum for feed­ing birds through­out au­tumn, win­ter and into the breed­ing sea­son in spring, we also need to keep an eye on the lit­tle fel­lows too.

Bugs need our help even if it’s just to make them­selves avail­able for birds and mam­mals as food.

Pro­tect­ing our in­sects can be a ma­jor un­der­tak­ing, like a bug man­sion, or more sim­ple ideas, like where you throw your gar­den waste.

At its most ba­sic, wildlife gar­den­ing can cre­ate win­ter shel­ters for in­sects to sur­vive by sim­ply leav­ing some of your lawn un­mown or by cre­at­ing leaf piles in part of your gar­den.

As you are tidy­ing your au­tumn gar­den look at some of the plants you are chop­ping down. Ver­bena, lo­vage and bor­age all have hol­low stems, which are per­fect win­ter haunts for bugs. Bam­boo canes are great for soli­tary bees. You can ei­ther leave small stems stand­ing in the gar­den or lay the cut stems flat on the soil.

I tend to cut down a lot of taller plants and then lay them on top of the soil. This pro­tects the soil and plants be­low from the worst of win­ter, keeps cats off the soil and pro­vides a habi­tat for hi­ber­nat­ing in­sects and mam­mals. Hol­low plants are an added bonus.

I’m not say­ing that spi­ders and flies are to­tally safe in th­ese ar­eas as I of­ten see robins and spar­rows prob­ing th­ese larders of docile in­sects and arach­nids.

You can, of course, cre­ate your own in­sect houses us­ing bam­boo canes. I had a lovely day out at Ac­cring­ton in sum­mer where vol­un­teer Jerry Sor­fleet and I in­vited chil­dren to make ba­sic in­sect houses – more than 80 joined in the fun.

How­ever it now means that in­sects will find a home in those 80 gar­dens, pol­li­nat­ing plants and of­fer­ing a food source for larger crea­tures.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust of­fers bril­liant ad­vice on its web­site on build­ing in­sect man­sions with habi­tats like dead wood for stag bee­tles and woodlice and straw and hay to bur­row into.

Dry leaves help to mimic the lit­ter on for­est floors. Then there are the tubes for bees and la­dy­birds.

In larger man­sions you can in­cor­po­rate hedge­hog houses and deck­ing pro­vid­ing nice gaps for frogs and toads, all great to keep pests at bay in your gar­den.

We are lucky to have stone walls which pro­vide shel­ter for in­sects and are vis­ited by a cou­ple of won­der­ful wrens look­ing for food through­out the years.

If you have room you can build your own dry­s­tone wall but don’t make it too big in case of ac­ci­dents. You don’t want to find the cat squashed.

Visit www.cheshire how-you-can-help/ wildlife-friendly -gar­den­ing-scheme to find a leaflet on cre­at­ing your own bug man­sion.

To support the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side, text WILD09 with the amount you want to do­nate to 70070. It man­ages about 40 na­ture re­serves and 20 lo­cal na­ture re­serves cov­er­ing acres of wood­land, wet­land, up­land and meadow. The trust has 26,000 mem­bers, and more than 1,200 vol­un­teers. To be­come a mem­ber go to the web­site at www. lanc­ or call 01772 324129. For in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust.

Gly­nis Dover

●● A bug ho­tel made from wooden pal­lets, logs and leaves at Brock­holes na­ture re­serve

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