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.
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.
See the black ant? They were everywhere inside!
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…
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.
Ants aren’t the only inhabitants that I discovered. Above is a photo of a spider nest in another branch.
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!