Bug box

by Adam Pasco

I'm always looking for ways to make wildlife in my garden feel more welcome and at home. After all, it has just as much right to be there as I do.

I'm always looking for ways to make wildlife in my garden feel more welcome and at home. After all, it has just as much right to be there as I do. Of course I question the big things (can I justify having a lawn and patio, or would creatures prefer flowers, thickets and wilderness?), but it's amazing how important the little things are. I see it time and time again, like the value of topping up the bird bath throughout the year, leaving apple windfalls for the blackbirds, or leaving the coriander to flower and in turn feed the hoverflies .

Bug boxMy bug boxes are another example. Small enough to fit almost anywhere, I've attached a couple to my pergola, a place I walk by each day so can keep en eye on things. There are plenty available to buy, but I prefer to make my own (very easy) bug box from off-cuts of wood, sticks and old canes.

I watch the box for a few minutes every time I pass and the chances are some insect or other will be investigating. Some just shelter for a while, but for others it's a safe home for their offspring. Every summer a leaf cutter bee spots the hollow canes, and uses them as a nursery to lay its eggs. Each egg is cocooned in a layer of carefully cut leaf discs. I'll spot where these have come from as I garden, where neat discs have been precisely cut from leaves. Roses are favourites but this year our bee is also using a neighbouring golden leaf jasmine. Over the course of a few days the bee travels back and forth so many times it makes your head spin, filling up each hollow cane in turn with dozens of eggs.

Quite what the leaf cutter bee looks for in a good home (or should that be nursery) I don't know, but my bug boxes have always proved a hit. I'm not sure where else the bee would nest if it weren't for my bug boxes. I did find a busy bee completely defoliating a passion flower in my greenhouse a few summer's ago, and creating its leafy cocoons in the compost of the same pot. Nice to know my garden is appreciated by local wildlife as much as my family.

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Gardeners' World Web User 14/08/2007 at 13:42

I too have a 'pollinating bee log' which i bought through the cancer research. It really is wonderful to see the bees busy cutting leaves and filling the canes. Chris O'Toole has written a small book about them - which I am trying to find!!

Gardeners' World Web User 15/08/2007 at 12:36

Delighted to hear you have made a home for leaf cutter bees, too. A Google search shows that Amazon has Christopher O'Toole's book called 'The Red Mason Bee: Taking the Sting Out of Beekeeping' in paperback (from £2.20). Could this be the book you're after, Anne?

Gardeners' World Web User 27/09/2007 at 23:38

Can anyone out there help me in my quest to buy some ladybird lava for my newley installed ladybird house. I had so few ladybirds in the garden this year that I thought I would give them a hand. I had so many green fly in my lupins this year that it killed them.

Gardeners' World Web User 02/10/2007 at 16:05

Kay, you can buy ladybirds and their larvae from a number of natural pest control companies, like Just Green. I'm sure these would only be available at certain times of year, so you would need to ask for advice. Check out their website. Also check the Green Gardener website.

Gardeners' World Web User 05/10/2007 at 16:09

Hi Kay, you can buy adult ladybirds from Wiggly Wigglers, but they are only available from the end of May to August. Their web site is here

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