Thursday, March 23, 2017

Build a Beetle Bump for Your Backyard

Attracting predatory insects into our gardens

Ground Beetles & Friends Welcome 

Reasonable Rates

Spider - Beth Reis Photography
One of the ways a city like Cleveland, Ohio, USA attract young professional is to build quality housing, one of the ways to attract ground beetles (Coleoptera) is to build Beetle Banks. That is long a furrow speckled with native wildflowers, grasses and sedges parallel to farm fields. Since, our planting space is limited we opted to create a Beetle Bump,  a smaller version of a bank.

dogbane beetle
Dogbane Beetle - ODNR Division of Wildlife
 Why, you might ask are we striving to attract ground beetles into our nursery? The answer, these fellows along with: spiders, Hover Flies, Green Lacewings, Lady Beetles and Minute Pirate Bugs pulverize gardens pest like: slugs, aphids, fly maggots, mite, slugs and snails. 
So how do we entice these nocturnal, Vikings to taking up residency in our gardens? Advertise!! You don't need a flashing neon billboard; subtle blooms and fragrances radiating from Ohio native plants will spark their curiosity enough for them to glide in and grab a snack. When creating your Beetle Bump consider using building material that beetles are fond of: leaves, sticks, native grasses, sledges and native plants will do the trick.

NOG's Beetle Bump V One!

Lady Beetle - Beth Reis Photography
 February 2017, Cleveland, Ohio, presented us with 10 days of usually warm day and night time temperatures, Great for long runs and bike rides, bit stressful on vegetation. Since it was to early to pull back the winter "leaf blanket" protecting our native plants, I decide to erect a beetle bump. The ideal time to design a bank or bump is in the fall, giving beetles and other insects ample time to establish permanent residence. February would have to do.

 I created our bump in the same fashion I bake, cook and raise native plants. A little of this, a bit of that combined with a extra dose of improvisation and substitution. Low and behold our very own  Nodding Onion Gardens Beetle Bump Version One.

Make do with what you have!


True to my nature, I used what we had in the "cupboard". A shady spot was chosen for one reason; our native plants have priority on the sunny real estate.

Recipe for Our Permanent  Beetle Bump Condo

BeetleBump - Sticks, brush and leaves
Sticks, Brush and leaves
First Floor - Four bundles of Raspberry Brambles and 2 garbage can of full of sticks and branches

Second Floor -Two bales of hay, complements of our neighbors, broken up in 10 in sections

Third Floor - Three garbage cans full of decomposing leaves

Fourth Floor - Four wheel barrels full of compost. This was a huge sacrifice!

Fifth Floor - Thin netting was spread over the top to help keep the bump from washing away.

Sixth Floor - Native Ohio Wildflowers and grasses were selected that prefer or tolerate shade. 

Beetle Bump with hay added
A nice warm layer of hay!

Prospective native wildflowers for our beetle bump:Helianthus strumosus - Pale-leaved Sunflower, Oenothera biennis - Evening of Primrose, Eupatorium coelestinum. - Mist Flower.

Native Grasses for our Beetle Bump -  From Prairie Moon Nursery we ordered four different types of grasses native to Ohio: Elymus villosus - Silky Wild Rye, Carex retorosa - Deflexed Bottle-brush Sedge, Elymus hystrix - Bottlebrush Grass,  Carex shortiana - Short's Sedge

Our Experiment - The  NOG Beetle Bump is Version One has not been tested or tired, at this stage of the game it is merely an experiment which will hopefully encourage others to learn more about Beetle Bumps and Beetle Banks. The Xerces Society has a blueprint method that may be of interest to you, Try Beetle Banks for Organic Pest Management .

Good luck! We would love to hear about your Beetle Bump Version!

Beetle Bump without flowers or grasses
February 2017 -  Where are the plants?

A great source for more details us Ohio State Associate Professor, Mary Gardiner's new book Good Garden Bugs: Everything You Need to Know About Beneficial Predatory Insects 

1 comment:

  1. This is so awesome Beth! I will definitely create my own beetle bump too. Thanks for providing us info. on another way to help our pollinators and plants and make us more successful gardeners.