May is a busy time in the wildlife garden. Birds are busy feeding their young, while pollinators such as bumblebees, butterflies and hoverflies are taking advantage of the mild conditions and abundance of flowers. Migrant birds, such as swifts, barn swallows and house martins return to our shores at the beginning of the month, and hedgehogs start ‘rutting’ or mating – males can compete for females and may even roll rival males away in a ball.
More on wildlife gardening:
Browse our list of wildlife jobs for May, below.
Avoid trimming hedges
A hornbeam hedge
Check hedges before trimming to avoid disturbing nesting birds, and use hand tools instead of power tools until the end of the breeding season. Ideally, avoid trimming hedges until September.
Feed the birds
Putting mealworms on a bird table
Leave out live or dried mealworms for blackbirds and robins. Nesting birds such as blue tits and house sparrows may take them for their young if caterpillars are in short supply. However, avoid letting mealworms spill onto the ground as hedgehogs may eat them at night –mealworms are extremely dangerous for hedgehogs, causing bone deformities.
Create wildlife habitats
A stack of logs and twigs
Leave mini piles of stones or twigs in borders, or create a dead wood habitat such as a log pile, to provide shelter for small invertebrates such as centipedes and ground beetles, as well as amphibians and small mammals. They will shelter here by day and will then be on hand to devour slugs and other garden pests at night.
Grow plants for pollinators
A bee drinking nectar from lavender flowers
Plant nectar- and pollen-rich herbs such as borage, chives, lavender, rosemary and oregano in a sunny spot to attract pollinators.
Allow weeds to flourish
Yellow-flowering dandelion plants
Leave a few weeds such as dandelions to provide food for wildlife. Some species lay eggs on leaves, while others feed on their nectar and pollen.
Give your pond a makeover by adding plants such as hornwort, brooklime and water forget-me-not. These help shelter aquatic insects and larvae such as frog and toad tadpoles and newt efts, dragonfly and damselfly larvae and diving beetles.