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Hedgehogs ‘the gardeners friend’


Hedgehogs are commonly referred to as ‘the gardeners friend’ due to the high number of insects and other garden pests it eats. Their main food source is beetles, caterpillars, slugs and earthworms. Encouraging them into your garden has mutual benefits to both you and your prickly visitors. It is not uncommon for an adult hedgehog to eat almost half its own body weight every day.

How to attract hedgehogs

hedgehog

Providing your garden is not totally closed off there is a good possibility that you will be visited by a hedgehog. It is not advised to leave milk out as this can cause illness for wild hedgehogs. You may wish to supplement their diet by leaving cat or dog food out or a proprietary food mix.
In order to help hedgehogs thrive in your garden the best option is to provide shelter particularly during periods of harsh weather. For advice on creating your own hedgehog nest the British Hedgehog Preservation Society publish a series of leaflets on all aspects of hedgehog welfare, they can be contacted at www.bhps@dhustone.fsbusiness.co.uk.


It is important to remember that hedgehogs have partial protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and cannot be trapped without permission from English Nature.

If you find an orphaned or sick hedgehog contact your local Wildlife Trust for advice and assistance.

Bats

Bats need friends

Bats are protected by law and this includes the disruption of their roosts. The reason that these nocturnal creatures are so well protected is that numbers have been in steady decline. This decline has been due to both a loss of habitats and a decline in insects that form their main source of food. The recent increase in pesticides has accelerated this food shortage and means the need for protection has become critical.
With this in mind it is possible to attract bats into your garden by providing bat boxes. One important point to make is that if you notice bats using a box you must notify English Nature. It is necessary to apply for a licence to carry out regular checks on the bats.
The advantage of having bats in your garden is that they will eat many of the pests that could otherwise cause a problem. The types of plants that will attract both the insects and as a result bats are cottage garden plants and most herb varieties. It is a good idea to plant night-scented flowers, as these will attract the maximum number of insects at the time when bats feed. It is common sense to say that the use of artificial pesticides should never be used.

Did you know?

Bats use echolocation to find their prey in the dark

Bats hibernate during winter due to the lack of insects to eat

Bats may only have one young each year and if food is scarce, none.

Bats can live up to thirty years!

Bats have been shown to travel as far as 11 miles in the search of food!


Bees

There are more than 250 species of native bee in Britain. At present almost 25% of them are now endangered due to the decline in natural habitats caused by intensive farming. Domestic gardens are becoming increasingly important for bees, and gardeners have a central responsibility to play in creating the correct habitats for the bees’ survival.

bumble bee

Gardeners can provide a small meadow of rough grass. It is a common misconception made by gardeners that all flowers are beneficial for bees. In reality many modern hybrids lack pollen and nectar, which is the bees’ main food source Another common misunderstanding due to misinformation is that bumblebees are aggressive.

Bumblebees in particular are essential pollinators of flowers, soft fruit and certain crops, particularly more traditional crops such as apples, pears, plums, raspberries and strawberries. One reason why bumblebees remain important in Britain is because they are able to pollinate at lower temperatures than most insects.

It is a known fact that bumblebees respond to ultra-violet colours. Therefore, the best options are flowers that are white, blue, purple or yellow. Tests have shown that bees tend to go to blue and purple flowers first, then to yellow and orange. Bees have a tendency to frequent old fashioned single flowers rather than fancy doubles. It is also important to note that bees benefit significantly when pesticide sprays are avoided.

Plants that encourage bumblebees and other species include:

* Bluebells
* Bungle
* Rosemary
* Dead-nettles
* Geraniums
* Foxglove
* Honeysuckle
* Monkshood
building a wildlife friendly garden

 

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