Winter can be a tough time for much of our wildlife. Many insects, amphibians and three of Britain’s mammals tuck themselves away to get through the cold winter months.
Most gardens will provide shelter for wildlife and even a pile of leaves or scrubby area will be prime spots for creatures looking for a snuggly bed, but you can give your garden wildlife an extra helping hand by providing some of the following winter homes.
Making an artificial lodging is easy and they can be made from odds and ends!
Who will live here: Various minibeasts, solitary bees and wasps, beetles, spiders and ladybirds.
What you will need: Block of wood, fencepost, or logs (plus: one drill bit, 5-10mm diameter)
How: drill holes about 90mm deep into logs, wood blocks, fence posts. Site in a sheltered spot.
What will live here: Various minibeasts, solitary bees and wasps, beetles, spiders and ladybirds.
What you will need: Long cylindrical container with the top taken off (e.g. drainpipe, cleaned paint can, catering tin), plus straws or bamboo caned 5-8mm diameter.
How: Seal one end with a bung (polystyrene blobs are excellent); tape the sticks into place. Hang in a sunny position; attach to trunks and fences at various heights.
An old terracotta pot upturned with an entrance hole makes an excellent sanctuary for a frog or toad. You could even paint it to make it a real feature of the garden like in the example here.
What will live here: green lacewing (they’ll eat your aphids).
What you’ll need: plastic bottle (1 or 2 litre size) with top roll of corrugated cardboard 80 – 100am long, wire, scissors.
How: cut the bottom off the bottle; roll the card and insert; fix with wire. Make sure the bottle covers the card with a 5cm overhang. Hang in dense foliage preferably mid August.
Bumblebee hibernation chamber
What will live here: Queen bumblebees (various species)
What you’ll need: earthenware flowerpot (9-10cm depth), 2-3cm of old hose, loose earth, trowel.
How: queen bees hibernate in chambers dug in loose soil. Fill a pot with loose earth and bury so that the hole shows. Attach hose if you want to bury it completely.
What will live here: hedgehogs
What you'll need: A cardboard box, plastic bin liners, leaves, straw or other pets’ bedding, logs and stones, garden debris.
How: Wrap the box in bin bags, place in a quiet corner. Cover with logs, leaves and debris.
Ladybird and butterfly lodges
What will live here: ladybirds and butterfly pupa
What you’ll need: hollow stems (thistles, teasels, fennel, angelica), leaf litter, grassy tussock, loose bark, plant debris, general ‘wild corner’ in the garden.
How: Cut the stalks at different levels from the ground; leave wild corner especially tall grass for butterflies.