Posts Tagged ‘woodlice’

img180There is a certain kind of bravado that is utterly charming when the smallest of insects can have a desperado’s feisty attitude and act like he is the highwayman of the garden ! I am talking about the Devil’s coach horse beetle. I think he has been watching far too many Adam and the Ant videos for his own good . Swaggering with as much machismo as his diminutive 25mm of him can manage he tries to be all flintlock and bandito rolled into one.

This beetle is also known as the Cocktail beetle (presumably not because he can mix a rather fine mohito on the rocks but rather because he Cocks his tail when holding up a unsuspecting  red riding hood on the path.

I was surprised to see him in the day as he normally shelters during the day under stones,logs or leaf litter. But here he was, the little outlaw in the pathway making out he was a mini scorpion and a much bigger and badder character. Its wings are short so you don’t really see them.. and all you are conscious of is his platy body and its dangerous looking pincer jaws. These predator  jaws were open and looking menacing…the sort of jaws that would make mincemeat of a juicy worm or woodlice in the shake of a cutlass or a footpads cudgel.

Read Full Post »


Insect Zigurrat takes a bow !

Ron and Libby our lovely ,loyal and stalwart Sussex Prairie volunteers have made us the incredible wheeled insect ziggurat which has now been  wheeled into  place and  populated with insect friendly home fodder  this week. Not only will it be a living home to many insects but should prove to be a talking point at the entrance to the Sven garden (mini prairie).

What is a Ziggurat   ? A massive structure having the form of a terraced step pyramid of successively receding storeys or levels.

Why is it in our garden ? why not .. it deserves a place in our hearts ! and it will be a multi storey home to a world of insects from bees, to lacewings , to miner bees .. and anyone else who fancies a deluxe condominium. It also provides a bit of a diversion for the eye from  the more than plastic unfantastic  digesting septic tank. I only hope the residents are soothed by the bubbling , burbling mechanisms machinating below .They can think of it as musical interlude.


Wildlife Friendly ! why ? because invertebrates can shelter there and lay their eggs and it can be a feeding place for insects, reptile s and small mammals (if they can clamber up there !)


Climate friendly ! why ? because it can provide cools , shady places  and extra nesting materials when natural alternatives may not be readily available .


How did they do it ? (Ron and Libby I mean !) .. well , they collected all manner of materials which could be used to create dark, deep ,mysterious nooks and crannies in the gaps between the artfully stacked pallet structure. Old pine cones, stalks, sticks, wood , old terracotta pots, bundles of twigs , grass seed heads.


What ? ….Dead wood : good for wood boring beetles  eg. stag beetle and larvae, can also support fungi. Centipedes and woodlice can burrow under the bark.

Hollow stems : ideal spots for solitary bees to lay their eggs

Stone and tiles : provide cool conditions for frogs and newts

Dry grass : give a place for insects to burrow into

Dry leaves : ladybirds might hibernate in here during winter and they are great for eating aphids in the garden.

Rotting wood and bark : is where beetles , centipedes ,spiders and woodlice love to be


And did you know….. there is actually a living library in the Zigurrat for creatures to enjoy and enrich their brain power and a great many hearts and a lot of love  hanging on it !(literally)

Thank you Ron and Libby for indulging our ever more crazy ideas and schemes !! Next idea : the wildlife matrix ….. coming soon ! Why not come and see the Zigurrat for yourself. It is open for business for wildlife 24 hours a day and open for human kind during our opening hours, daily, 1pm until 5pm from 1st June until 13th October 2013.

Read Full Post »