Wildlife Gardening - Create your own dead wood habitats

Did you know that nearly two thousand sorts of British invertebrates require dead wood, and use it in many different ways?

The grubs of the Stag beetle, for instance, need damp wood underneath the ground. Leafcutter and mason bees like to nest in pre-existing holes above the ground in sunny locations. Spiders can be living under bark, and woodlice, centipedes, slugs, ground beetles, ants and earthworms can be living underneath a log. Any fungi that emerge from dead wood will support further species.

But you do not need to visit your local wood to experience the variety and fascination of dead wood invertebrates – you can create that habitat in your garden!

Here are some simple ideas;

Log piles

Get a few logs and pile them up horizontally. Wait a few weeks and turn some over. Wow, what a lot of bugs! If you put some log piles in the shade (e.g. under a bush) and some in the sun, you will get different creatures living in the different log piles.

Stumperies

Dig a hole in the ground.  ‘Plant’ your logs in it, orientated vertically, so that half the log is in the hole. Pack soil in the gaps of the hole to bury the bases of the logs. This will support species like Stag beetle that like damp submerged dead wood.  Stumperies are strongly recommended if you live in Stag beetle hotspots such as the New Forest, Home Counties and East Suffolk.

Bee stumps

It is easy to buy off-the-peg bee hotels, but some of the best examples have been DIY jobs and they can look really interesting too. Find a sunny bit of your garden and set some taller logs or wooden posts of perhaps 2 metres length into the ground in an upright position. Find a drill with lots of drill bits and drill away! Make sure you concentrate of the sunny side, because that is where the bees prefer to nest. Smaller sorts of bees such as yellow-faced bees will use holes 2-3mm across, and larger ones such as leafcutters, masons, and wool-carders will use the larger holes of 8-10mm diameter. The challenge is then to provide the flowers that these bees like.

Need to fell a garden tree?

If you do, consider leaving a section of the trunk or the root system in situ to replicate some of the above. Use sections of trunk or branch to create those log piles and stumperies.

Deadwood log pile © Alan Stubbs Deadwood log pile © Alan Stubbs

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