Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Creating Dead Wood Habitat

Many species of fly, as well as beetle, wasp, bee and moth breed in dead or rotting wood. Many of these saproxylic insects are declining. Continuous availability of suitable habitat is required for many of these insects. Clear felling of woodlands often leads to a break in availability of wood of suitable size, age and degree of decay. Added to this, tidying woods to remove dead branches and trunks to reduce risk of fire or of injury further reduces suitable habitat. Many woodland managers are recognising this and are starting to be more sensitive to saproxylic insect needs. In many cases dead wood piles and branches are left on the ground as habitats. However, many species require standing dead wood or living wood with rot holes. Last week, with help from the wardens at Pitsford, I had a go at trying to create some habitat in stumps of felled trees. This was done by chiselling out a depression in the cut stump and filling the depression with the wood chips. Eventually these will fill with water and start to rot. Here are a couple of photos of the stumps:

It will take some time before anything happens but I shall keep an eye on them and see what develops. I may also try to make some more in taller stumps as these will eventually simulate standing dead wood.

I have previously had some success with artifical rot holes made from empty plastic drinks bottles, with a hole cut in the side and filled with rotting vegetation and water. The woodland hoverfly, Myathropa florea, has successfully bred in these. It is important that the filling does not dry out.
                                           Myathropa florea

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