Wildlife in Unexpected Places

Wildlife in Unexpected Places

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After reading a great post by Heather Holm on the Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens website (that I used to contribute to), I decided to build a native bee nest out of hollowed out branches.  Mason bees have nested in my yard before in a human-made spot and I wanted to see more.

Heather recommends using Elderberry branches.  Since I have several mature Red Elderberry bushes in my yard I decided to start there.  One of them is pictured above.

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Sure enough, the dead branches broke off easily and most were already hollowed out.  After I broke the one shown above, however, I noticed something inside already.

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See the black ant?  They were everywhere inside!

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Not only that, so were their eggs- tons of them!  I am guessing that this is a carpenter ant colony since they obviously were making a nest within the wood.  As long as they stay away from my house, I’m willing to leave them be- other than the damage I already accidentally caused here that is…

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Here’s a nice closeup of the eggs containing the developing ants.  This morning I took another look and, less than 24 hours later, they are all hidden from view.  It looks like the colony moved them further inside of the tree.

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Ants aren’t the only inhabitants that I discovered.  Above is a photo of a spider nest in another branch.

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Finally, this photo is taken of a branch that was laying on the ground.  See anything inside?  If you look closely, you can see a slug hiding inside.

After finding all of this, I stopped breaking off the elderberry branches.  Why build a new habitat by ruining others?  After all, when I started making my yard more wildlife friendly my goal was exactly this- allowing nature to exist on its own.  Native plants, brush piles, leaf litter, nooks and crannies- it is starting to pay off!

 

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