Updated: Jul 1
We live close to a small strip of ancient woodland with magnificent, old deciduous trees and confers. When a beautiful, tall Monterey Pine had to be felled last year, due to disease, I was really saddened.
The sculptural tree top could be seen from a long distance, it was stunning! After the pine had been felled a lot of the trunk's pieces were left lying around, so I took some of the small pieces to make a beetle bank, hoping to provide a protective habitat for some of our smaller insect inhabitants.
Then just before the heavy storm winds in February of this year, 2 nearby oak trees underwent some pollarding. As the pollarded branches were from broadleaved trees, I took the opportunity to ask for some of the wood from the tree surgeons. I wanted to build a log pyramid for our endangered stag beetles. This wood could make an ideal home for them. I also took some larger trunk pieces to make two lovely seats for any human visitors.
It is best to build a pyramid log pile with deciduous wooden branches that are at least as thick as an adult arm. Then dig a hole so that soil can sit between the logs and allow at least 50 cms of the wooden branch to sit below the surface, preferably in an area with some shade to help keep the wood moist.
Our Stag beetles with their amazingly large mandibles are in trouble. Their numbers are in serious decline, so they are protected and can not be sold in the UK, as well as being listed as a priority species. They are also categorised as an endangered species (Red listed) in many European countries.
Happily, the South East of England is a strong hold for this rare, beautiful beetle, I am hoping some may find a welcome home in these logs cut from grand, old, oak trees. The Stag beetle spends most of it's life under the soil, in the wood, so please do not burn old wood and take care when mowing in the summer (this is their active, short reproductive season when they are above the surface).
To find out more about the Stag beetle, please see the following links:
To make a log pile or log pyramid here is a helpful downloadable info sheet from the People's Trust for Endangered Species:
For a guide to the Beetle's long living larvae:
A quick ID guide to Stag beetles and their lookalike friends: