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5 - 3 Swallows

Jem Raid

New member
Hello all,

Earlier this year we saw five Swallows and thought here come the Heralds. There are two now and no others arrived, there are about fifteen House Martins instead of about Fifty. Last year there were hordes of both screetching across the sky all day.

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Even earlier than the above I saw a small pallet outside a house and asked if I could have, it just fitted into my little car. I cut it in half and put some felting on it, the bottom layer is full of stones, the next bits of wood, some roots on top and one of the insect homes on the plank. Already the ground nesting insects are flying in an out of the stones.

J

Saving the planet isn't hard
Make a start in your own backyard
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Sad that the migrating birds seem to be collapsing. It’s said to be the overwintering places in the Sahara and elsewhere that have changed.

Here we have a mismatch between spring flowers blooming and life cycles of insects and birds as the flowers have apparently also started shifting North.
 

Jem Raid

New member
Hello Jerome,

I live in Nottinghamshire in the UK, this evening I'm pleased to report I saw that a leaf cutter Bee had filled one of the holes.

Hello Asher,

Thanks for your comments good of you to reply. The Swallows and House Martins winter in South Africa, apparently the weather in Spain hasn't been very kind this year.

What concerns me is the lack of insects here in the UK, but as they say on BBC Springwatch there are 22 million gardens just waiting to be used for wildlife, even some flowers in a window box outside a high rise will help. It will happen gradually and the children will be the instigators, they are doing what we did in 60's raising their voices worldwide.

Sadly there is no way we can address the root causes they are here to stay but everyone of us can do something however small to alleviate the results.

Cheers - J
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Is there some documentation of the paucity of insects as I would have thought this would be a major interest of British and Scots Universities m and there would be major articles in BBC News. I know earthworms in the U.K are under thread by invasion of large aggressive but unrelated but ugly worm looking species that are winding around them and consuming them!

For insects to die in leafy lush British Isles s so unimaginable to me unless it’s some fungus, bacteria or the like or maybe pesticides in farm use?

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers
This article is more than 1 year old
Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say
Damian Carrington Environment editor
@dpcarrington


Insects caught in a malaise trap
The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists.
Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflieswere declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society.



Read more HERE!
The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said.
The cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Jem,

I am stunned as this, if factual and confirmed is a far more serious issue than the existence or not of the EU!

What on earth are the Newspapers doing TODAY to inform us?

How do we keep growing crops?

Asher
 

Jem Raid

New member
Hello Asher,

The worm you mention is the New Zealand flat worm which kills the native species, it was thought that it would spread over the whole country it hasn't, the servere winters have seen it off. As for the insects it's probably all the things you mention plus the major one, habitat loss, fiddling about with Uni studies is going to solve nothing just salve a few consciences, the wildlife problem that affects all species has gone far beyond that.

What is needed has already been pointed out on the BBC Springwatch programme it was on every night for two weeks and watched by millions. The research that is ongoing is being spearheaded by ordinary people answering questions online about their gardens so that a picture of what is available can be built up.

Hiding away in research units will solve nothing (what has it done so far - bugger all), the whole population of the planet must be gradually made aware that their offsprings lives are at stake now. This can only be done through TV, Social Media and the News programmes. The kids will see that its done.

Cheers - J

[edit] Simply, your garden is the last hope for wildlife of any kind, when half of the 22 milion in the UK swing into action, and they will the kids will see to it, then the problem will begin to go away.
[edit2] The time for the chattering classes to stop and do something physical themselves has arrived
 
Last edited:

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
We have a much simpler insect home. Actually, we have several: on a balcony right in the city center and outside the city near the bees. We found that they are well visited, but it helps to have flowers to pollinate nearby. The plants which work best are not the special insect plants but, more simply, most kitchen herbs. They have the added benefits to be useful for us humans...
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
We have a much simpler insect home. Actually, we have several: on a balcony right in the city center and outside the city near the bees. We found that they are well visited, but it helps to have flowers to pollinate nearby. The plants which work best are not the special insect plants but, more simply, most kitchen herbs. They have the added benefits to be useful for us humans...
What are special about kitchen herbs to promote insects?
 

Jem Raid

New member
Hello Jerome,

Fair play to you that's really great, if 500 million people were to do the same then the problem would be well on the way to being sorted. Every plant has an insect that likes it after all they've nothing else to do but look for them.

We covered the grass at the side of our little bungalow with polythene last year and dug it throughout the winter. We are growing, Potatoes, Shallots, Radishes, Lettuce, Runner Beans, Leeks, Thyme, Parsley and Mint and have planted Day Lilies, Chrysanthemums, Gladioli, Wallflowers, Iris's and Geraniums. All of them are visited by insects.

Just got back in after doing some watering (it's 8:30 PM here) and took this;

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Just to the left of the 'Woodside' you can see where Leaf Cutter bees have filled a couple of the tubes only four weeks after putting the 'home' up.

We are really pleased as well.

Cheers

J
 

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
I am glad you are pleased. Solitary bees are fascinating insects. Your insect hotel, however, may need improvement for the next spring. I suspect the holes are too big for many insects. Just find a piece of hardwood and drill holes in various sizes in the 3-5mm range.
I also see that the top appears to be pine wood. If it is so, change it for something else.
I should be at the bee place tomorrow. I'll try to take a few pictures of our insect hotels. I can't promise anything, though.

As to Asher's question. We have found from experience that plants from the lamiaceae familly are loved by pollinating insects. Members of the family include kitchen herbs such as uch as basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, thyme, lavender... They have plenty of advantages: they bllom for a long time and are cheap, easy to grow and useful. If the wild bees love them and prefer them to the so-called "selected" bee plants, I am not going to change their minds.

Asher being in America, he may prefer plants from that continent like chillies or tomatoes. We tried these and bees love them as well. This is a chilli plant:


1533
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Thanks both you guys!

We need to spread the word!

Some hard woods have insect juvenile hormones which act by imprisoning the latest instar in their fixed shells!

So just taking “wood” because it’s “free” may be unwise. Someone has to say which wood is sage for the insects to grow freely and reproduce, we don’t want to lure them in and then prevent their full growth cycle with the trees biological warfare turned against them!

Even a sheet of cheap (off-white or very light sienna-colored), paper towels can have enough anti-insect natural juvenile hormone from the original wood to block insect growth!

Asher
 

Jem Raid

New member
Hello Jerome,

Thanks for the info, I'm going to get some Ivy cuttings to plant and which will grow over the pallets. I'll take the logs off cut them up a bit and put them somewhere else, I'll drill some holes as you suggested, thanks fot that.

Cheers

J
 

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
That does not appear to be a real problem with the wood, but with the bark extract of specific trees, concentrated. And these specific trees have been known as insect repellents.
 

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
This is a picture of one insect hotel together with an enlargement of a well-used part.


1545
1546

The insect hotel is basically a collection of what we could find with holes. The close-up shows what sizes are used this year. Anything closed is used by an insect. There are several kinds and they prefer different sizes of holes. The little twigs at the top are well used, but should be protected against birds over winter. The flat white rectangles were given by a potter who wanted to see what worked.
 

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
This is a far simpler setup, basically two pieces of wood stacked in a place protected from rain.

1547


The bottom piece is, I think, oak. The top piece is hornbeam. Basically, it is the trees which grow there and branches we had to cut. This "hotel" is a short distance from the first one, but completely different hole sizes are used.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
This is a far simpler setup, basically two pieces of wood stacked in a place protected from rain.

The bottom piece is, I think, oak. The top piece is hornbeam. Basically, it is the trees which grow there and branches we had to cut. This "hotel" is a short distance from the first one, but completely different hole sizes are used.

Jerome,

Very interesting pictures and information.

Can you introduce me to the social awareness in Europe, or at least where you are as to the need for and value of such insect hotels. Have there been any studies? Is there some association or website with a registration so we can see a growth in this human activity on behalf of nature?

If not we can have a section of OPF written with geolocations and maps to be able to plot and quantify the spread of such insect hotels. We could have an export function to have folk download from “Resources” our data base!

Asher
 

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
Awareness is certainly raising. For example there was a vote in Bavaria earlier this year about changing agricultural practices to improve the situation of insects (https://volksbegehren-artenvielfalt.de) and it won by a landslide. At the last election for the European parliament a month ago, the score of the ecological parties was quite good.

As to geolocations of insect hotels, I don't think it is necessary or even desirable. Ecology is a collection of complex systems and if we push too much one solution, we risk to do more arm than good. For example: the presence of this kind of insect hotel is detrimental to other insects which have completely different needs for their reproduction, simply because it helps the competitors.

What appears to be most needed at present are changes in agricultural practices which would leave more living space to a wealth of diverse plants and animals, but even that is complex. Last year, probably because of subventions to that practice, a large field was planted with flowers in late september next to where I keep bees. It caused as much arm as good, simply because large quantities of insect food do not belong there at this time of the year.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I am glad that there’s increased awareness in Europe. Here I have not heard of any action planned!

Asher
 
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