WILDLIFE WATCH

From Buglife & PTES

Country Smallholding - - Contents - Paul Hether­ing­ton is direc­tor of fundrais­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Buglife, www.buglife. org.uk

AS WE progress through sum­mer, we of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence pe­ri­ods of drought. Trav­ellers are warned to carry bot­tles of wa­ter with them on the Lon­don Un­der­ground, bird baths are reg­u­larly filled and fields, al­lot­ments and gar­dens wa­tered to keep plants grow­ing. Spare a thought, though, for bees, but­ter­flies and oth­ers bugs as they too need to drink. Pro­vid­ing that drink is, in fact, ever so easy to do.

Sink a plant saucer into the ground so that the edge is vir­tu­ally flush with the soil. This en­ables easy ac­cess for those bugs who can­not fly. Par­tially fill the saucer with peb­bles. This has two big ad­van­tages as it pro­vides a way out of the wa­ter for bugs that fall in and re­duces the rate of evap­o­ra­tion. Then fill the saucer to the brim with wa­ter and you have cre­ated the per­fect bug drink­ing trough. Just re­mem­ber to keep top­ping it up or it will run dry in re­ally hot weather.

June is also one of the best months for wild­flower shows, so food for pol­li­na­tors is in

abun­dance in our gar­dens and on com­mon land. Many flow­ers will ex­tend their flow­er­ing sea­son pro­vided they are reg­u­larly dead headed, but this is also the time to think ahead to be sure that as we move through July and into Au­gust and be­yond that there will still be suf­fi­cient food for all of our pol­li­na­tor friends.

This­tles and their rel­a­tives are good late­sea­son flow­ers, as are Michael­mas daisies, tansy and yarrow. Sadly, late flow­er­ing pan­sies are of lit­tle value to pol­li­na­tors as they do not re­quire pol­li­na­tion and so pro­vide no re­wards. Bud­dleia is also a great late-sea­son source of nec­tar for but­ter­flies, al­though it is also an ex­tremely in­va­sive coloniser and it is best to dead­head be­fore seeds set. This also leads to se­condary and even ter­tiary flow­er­ing of the cut stems.

The red-headed car­di­nal bee­tle (Py­rochroa ser­rati­cor­nis)

The pinewood ma­son bee (Os­mia un­ci­nata)

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