Wildlife Garden Maintenance in August


August is a quiet month in any garden with little to do except general maintenance and wildlife watching.  Many adult birds are still in moult and therefore inconspicuous, hiding away from predators while they are vulnerable.  The weather can be hot and muggy with the occasional thunderstorm, and warm evenings outside may be plagued with tiny biting insects such as gnats and mosquitoes.  These small insects provide food for many other animals including bats, which may put in an appearance over your garden or in the park at dusk.  There should still be plenty of nectar and pollen bearing plants in flower all around with insects everywhere, including wasps and hoverflies.

Buddleia may be coming to the end of its flowering season now, but deadheading it will prolong the appearance of new flower spikes.  This may be a rather laborious task, but is worth it to provide nectar for the late summer butterflies such as red admiral, painted lady, and small tortoiseshell.

Make sure your pond is regularly topped up.  It may be the only accessible water in the area and your local birds, hedgehogs and foxes may depend on it.  In hot weather some mammals may even visit to drink during daylight hours.  If your pond dries up completely water boatmen, water beetles and pond skaters may fly elsewhere but the nymphs of dragonflies and damselflies and many other aquatic creatures may perish.  If you have managed to save rainwater, use this in preference to tap water, but if tap water is all that is available, add it little and often rather than a large quantity all at once.

Swallows may be rearing their second or even third brood of young.  These birds return to their natal nesting sites so, as colony size increases, nest sites can be in short supply.  By watching the birds now you may see a suitable spot for an artificial nest in a shed (where the window can be left open) under the house eaves or in a porch.  Make a note to place an artificial swallow nest cup here early next year.

Garden hedgehogs including youngsters will be feeding around our gardens and are especially welcome in vegetable plots and allotments.  A hedgehog will eat up to a hundred invertebrates every night including caterpillars, earwigs and beetles, but only a few slugs which are not their favourite food.  Encourage them by creating an area of dried grass and vegetation in an out of the way place.  Make sure this area is left undisturbed to provide a safe day-time nest site.

Continue to mow lawns at this time if they need a trim, but make sure you leave the cuttings on the ground unless you need them for your compost heap.  These will mulch down and conserve moisture in the soil,  keeping the grass greener for longer without the need to water.

 

Text and photographs Jenny Steel 2017