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Put rotting logs in your garden to help bugs whose habitats are being destroyed by patios and decking, nature organisations say

Helena Horton
Bugs love rotting logs

Put rotting logs in your garden to help the bugs who face extinction in a "sea of tarmac drives and concrete patios", nature organisations have said.

The Woodland Trust said that rotting wood is usually looked at with suspicion as British people are afraid it is dirty and carries diseases.

The organisation explained: "Dead and decaying wood can have negative connotations. When walking through a wood, people may see rotting logs or broken branches and think that the woodland is unhealthy or dangerous. In actual fact, the risks to people posed by decaying wood are usually small, yet the value to ecosystem health is enormous.

"We would advise leaving deadwood in gardens as it provides a valuable habitat for wildlife."

Leaving a pile of decaying wood at the bottom of the garden provides food and home to a plethora of fungi, thousands of invertebrate species,  and even birds and mammals, the organisation added.

The Wildlife Trusts agreed, adding that many British gardens are "part of a sea of tarmac drives and concrete patios", so space for nature is crucial.

They recommend sourcing logs from a firewood dealer and leaving them to rot, which provides habitat for birds, hedgehogs and frogs who will feed on the bugs attracted to the decaying matter.

Rotting wood provides food and shelter for amphibians Credit:  Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Beetles, which love making their home in rotting wood, are currently under threat. Last year, the IUCN Red List for saproxylic beetles identified 18 per cent of species in Europe as threatened with extinction, citing loss of  habitat as the major cause.

Some of Britain's most famous show gardens now feature rotting wood as a way to encourage wildlife.

Guy Barter, the Chief Horticulturalist at the Royal Horticultural Society, told The Telegraph:  “Log piles and twig heaps provide an important home for wildlife and are a common feature in RHS gardens. Insects and other creatures lurk under and in rotting wood providing food for visiting birds, hedgehogs, frogs and toads”.

He recommended gardeners simply stack logs up in heaps 60-100cm high in out of the way shaded parts of the garden.  Logs will take some years to decay and are best left undisturbed.  Knock in stakes on each side so the logs don’t roll.

The logs do not have to be an unattractive, festering heap; the RHS added that "any rather pretty logs, for example birch, can make quite ornamental piles. In fact the use of logs to make log pile fences was popular throughout RHS show gardens in 2019."