Monday, June 9, 2008

breeding stag beetles - or not

The fact that I’m working too hard is starting to show – I’ve caught a cold from George and although I made it to the end of Friday’s work, I pretty much collapsed on the sofa and felt under the weather most of the weekend.

Of course, I also ended the week having taken on two extra pieces of work with short deadlines (one is a print advert for vodaphone - the other is an animated rap video!) both I’ve got to do in about a week …. The joys of being freelance!


Saturday didn’t offer much recouperation. Apart from the fact that Lisa, Sam and about 8 others went to see sex in the city on Saturday night leaving me with George and the job of making sushi for anyone who came back for a nightcap.. The people living in the house that backs onto the end of our garden are cleaning up – and that means knocking down the wall of our garden and replacing it.

In our garden – between the greenhouse and the wall was a big pile of rotting wood. Our neighbours kindly offered to get a skip and help us move the wood through their garden (since we can’t get to it from behind the greenhouse).

Fair enough. Only, I don’t really want to move the rotting wood. I want to keep the rotting wood just where it is. Not because I’m ill, but because it’s what makes our garden unique.

That pile of wood is where the foxes chose to raise their young last year – which is why we had little baby foxes in the garden. But more than that, a big pile of rotting wood is just what stag beetles need for their breeding cycle.

Stag beetles do live in our wood pile – we’ve seen them flying in the summer – and it turns out they’re very rare – and south east London is one of the most important sites in the country for finding them.

The problem is, that stag beetles aren’t stag beetles for very long. In fact, they’re only stag beetles for about 2 months. The rest of their 7 year lives is spent as grubs living in piles of rotting wood.

No rotting wood. No stag beetles.

So I didn’t really want to remove it. However, what can you do? The wall was collapsing and if the neighbours wanted to reclaim their garden they had to replace it. As soon as they did, the wood pile would come crashing into their garden.

So it had to go.

And there were stag beetle lavae. I didn’t know what they were until we looked it up later – but there definitely were some big white grubs among the wood.

Luckily, the skip was too small and only half the wood pile was behind the section of wall we removed, so half the wood pile remains.

Still, I can’t escape the feeling we’ve destroyed something we can’t replace.

I’m hoping we can keep the rest of the wood pile… I did also find this:
which might be something we can do to add to our stag beetle population…

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