Monday, 21 October 2013

Hotel Humdinger

It's my mother's birthday in a few days' time, and I was looking around for a little something to buy her as a bit of fun. Since she has a sizeable garden and an interest in wildlife - especially birds - we like to visit garden centres for this kind of thing. The fact that me and Julie like browsing them ourselves is beside the point of course (coughs uncomfortably). Another reason is that I'm always on the lookout for a relatively cheap squirrel-proof bird feeder, as Mum is forever despairing of their habit of destroying or even stealing the feeders (see HERE).

Once in the wildlife section of the nursery, though, I tend to be distracted by all the feeders and wotnots. I'm of the opinion that creating somewhere to live for some of the overlooked creatures is hugely important. Bees are on the decline globally, and humans are destroying habitats daily, whether directly by building or farming on it, or indirectly, by taking the resources or vital parts of the ecological chain.

One of the main problems in urban situations is that most people don't realise how much their manicured gardens or slabbed-over patios create a desert of living spaces for the animals we are displacing. The daft thing is, many of these bugs and other creatures are beneficial and/or harmless to humans. Craneflies (daddy longlegs) look creepy with their spindly legs and bodies, but they are vegetarian and won't harm you. Hoverflies look a little like wasps, but they are important pollinators, almost as important as bees (plus, they don't sting!).

There are some amazing ideas that various people and companies have come up with to help these garden helpers; if you google 'insect hotel' in image search, then you'll see what I mean. In the meantime, at this garden centre recently, I saw this one made by Neudorff.

It's a wonderful thing, providing refuge for various beneficial bugs. I would like one for our garden and I wouldn't mind betting my mother would, too. At a distance from the house though, and Julie was even less keen on the idea...



On a related note, it's that time of year when people like to have bonfires. However, nice as they are to watch, they are deathtraps for wildlife. If they see a pile of wood with lots of gaps, they are going to crawl in and make a nest. Please read this letter from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and remember that other animals will use bonfires in the same way.

See here for a larger view