Wildlife-welcoming wins

Two things have made me very happy in the garden recently.

I wanted to share them as an example of making space for nature without much (if any) time, and without spending a fortune (in my case, spending nothing at all).

Bees in bee hotel

One Sunday evening in the winter, I spent an hour or so making two little bee blocks. I drilled some holes (2-10mm) in 2 spare blocks of wood from my dad. I filed down the insides of the holes to remove the biggest splinters, added a little overhanging roof (using more “spare” wood) and in the spring, attached them to the fence (one facing South, one facing South West) using some wire I already had.

After finding one fly “chilling” in one of the tunnels and lots of spiders making webs in and over many of the holes, I assumed they weren’t going to be used by bees.

I was pleasantly surprised a few weeks ago! A bee caught my eye just as it flew away from the block. I didn’t get a good look at the bee itself but think it’s a leafcutter, as this is what it had left behind…

It (or a different bee) came back later, went into another tunnel of the same diameter, and started pulling out shavings of wood – I don’t know if I left them in there or if the bee scraped them away.

Later or the day after, another tunnel was filled and closed off.

It is so satisfying to have made a space that another creature has been able to make use of. I just wish I’d known it was that diameter hole that would be used, I would have made more!

Chrysalises

I hadn’t mown along the side of the house for some time – it only gets mown as it’s rented and we’re expected to keep it “tidy” – but it wasn’t growing much for some time and the mower had run out of petrol, so it was left alone.

The next time I looked at the grass by the house, I found this…

There was a line of chrysalises in the untouched grass! There were six in total. There have been quite a few Brimstones about and these seem to match, which is fantastic! I didn’t catch any of them emerging so can’t be 100% sure, but it looks likely.

A day or so later I also found a caterpillar – equally spaced along the same line of the chrysalises and looking like another Brimstone. The day after that, it had attached itself to a blade of grass as if it was about to form its own. Fingers crossed it will succeed!

Bright/lime green caterpillar with black speckles clinging to a blade of grass

Potentially six or seven Brimstone butterflies safely developed just from leaving a bit of grass un-mown for a few weeks.

That, and the dozens of beetles usually clambering amongst the blades of grass, the clouds of moths that reluctantly flutter out when disturbed, and who knows how many other unseen invertebrates living down there in the shelter of the sward. The reasons for leaving the grass (or at least some of the grass) alone have got to outweigh a bit of neatness…

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