There are over 4,000 species of beetle in Britain. Chances are you have some in your garden! Whilst some can be a pest – such as the bright red lily beetle – many beetles are really beneficial for the garden and as such, something you want to encourage.
The reason beetles are valuable garden inhabitants is because many are predatory. Often nocturnal, they feed on slugs, snails and other invertebrates, helping to keep populations under control and plant damage to a minimum. Ladybirds (a type of beetle) feast on aphids and are really the more ecologically sound way to control populations feasting on your plants.
You can encourage beetles in your garden by making sure you have suitable habitats for them to live in. Here are a few ideas :
We have all seen bug hotels which can provide multiple habitats for insects in the garden. Some of the shop bought ones can work well if sited in a good spot (generally this means hidden away and surrounded by vegetation!), but it is better to create your own by stacking up pallets or pieces of wood with bricks in between, and filling them full of decaying wood, logs, leaves, pine cones and so on. To ensure yours attracts beetles, make sure it has piles of leaves at the bottom for beetles to crawl into. Many beetles lay eggs in decaying leaf piles and they can overwinter in them too. You can also stack stones on the ground level in which beetles can hide and sleep during the day.
LOG OR STONE PILES
Log or stone piles are a great place for beetles to rest during the day. You can easily incorporate these within your borders, behind shrubs and trees, so they are relatively hidden and a subtle addition to the garden. Different beetles will hide in them and come out when it’s time to eat, whether that be at night to predate slugs and snails, or during the day to feast on aphids. If the wood is already decaying – even better!
CREATE A STUMPERY
Decaying wood is essential for many beetles including the stag beetle. Their larvae feed on the decaying wood under the ground and will reside in it for between three and seven years! To create a suitable habitat to support this, part bury logs in a shaded, relatively damp spot. You can plant around them to help integrate the wood piles into your garden.
LEAF PILES AND COMPOST HEAPS
If you collect fallen leaves into piles, or have an open sided compost heap, these make for excellent beetle habitats. The beetles can come and go as they please, larvae can feed on visiting slugs and snails and decaying matter, and it’s a safe place in which to hide or overwinter.
We hope this will give you some good ideas and you will find that attracting more beetles to your garden will help with slug and snail pests!