Bug Buddies is our newsletter for young people with a keen interest in bugs. All our members receive Bug Buddies quarterly. Below are a few snippets from our most recent Bug Buddies.
Bug Project 1: Make your own wormery
Do you want to unmask the private lives of worms? If so read on, and we'll tell you how to make a simple worm observatory that will reveal their deepest stories.
Step one: Find two plastic bottles. The larger the bottles, the better, but one must be smaller than the other.
Step two: Buy a small bag of sand and a small bag of peat-free compost from a garden centre. Make sure the sand you buy is horticultural sand and not builders' sand.
|Wormery © Steven Arnott|
Step three: make some drainage holes in the bottom of your large bottle then cut its top off and place the smaller bottle inside it. Fill the smaller bottle with cold water. This will help steady the bottle and keep the worms cool.
Step four: Fill the gap between the two bottles with alternating layers of sand and compost. When the gap is filled, gently water the layers with rainwater until they are moist.
Step five: Find some worms and place them in the gap - a dig in a garden should unearth some worms very quickly.
Step six: Leave the worms somewhere cool and dark for a couple of days then take them out and see what's happened. Hopefully you shold see a lot. The disruption to the layers of sand and compost will show you where the worms have been digging and if you are lucky you will also see how they make their burrows.
© Matt Shardlow
Did you know...
Although earthworms are very useful to plant life they are actually disappearing from some farmers' fields. Heavy farm machinery forms a compacted layer of soil below the ploughed layer. Deep burrowing worms can't break through this layer and suffer as a result.
Bug Project 2 - Create a bug hotel
Bugs love an untidy garden: piles of dead wood and leaves lying around the place are a source of food to some bugs and provide shelter for others. For many bugs a heap of autumn leaves is the ideal place to hibernate through the winter.
If you have a garden with no room for a bug-friendly patch of untidiness, why not make a bug hotel out of a 'tidy' leaf pile? All you need is some plastic mesh, some garden string, a flat piece of wood and a pile of leaves.
Most garden centres sell chicken-wire or plastic mesh by the metre. For our bug hotel we bought a one metre length of green plastic mesh, curled it into a tube and tied it in place using four twists of plastic covered garden wire.
When you have your cylinder take some dead plant stems or twigs and poke them through the sides of the cylinder at the bottom. The twigs overlap to form a mesh which stops the leaves falling out of the bottom of the cylinder if you pick it up; it also stops the leaves touching the ground and helps to stop them getting damp.
Bug hotel © Steven Arnott
With the twigs in place you can fill the cylinder with dead leaves and put a piece of wood on top to stop the rain getting in (the wood has to be heavy so it won't blow away). As the leaves in the hotel dry-out they will shrink, so try to keep some extra ones to top-up the cylinder. If your garden is very windy it might be an idea to make some v-shaped staples out of coat-hanger wire and use them to pin the bottom of the cylinder to the ground.
Once you have made your hotel put it in a quiet corner of the garden - preferably somewhere in the shade. As the nights start getting colder, bugs will find your hotel and use it as a safe dry place to hibernate.
Did you know...
Butterflies get their name from a colour. One of the most familiar butterflies to our ancestors was what we now call the Brimstone. The bright yellow males were considered to look very 'buttery' (the females are light green), so for this reason the Anglo Saxons called them 'butterfloege', meaning 'butter-fly'.
The name was later given to every kind of butterfly and the word passed down into modern English. Because the real 'butterfly' lost its name it was given a new one - the 'Brimstone', which is an old name for the bright yellow element, sulphur.