Bugs and grubs
Living willow structures provide a great resource for wildlife, particularly insects and birds. As well as being beautiful in its own right, and a practical solution to screening, providing shade or making a good place to play, living willow can really benefit wildlife in the garden. Insect life loves living willow, with the fascinating giant willow aphid (Tuberolachnus salingus) attracting wasps and hornets to feed on the honeydew they produce. If your willow hosts these aphids, where it is safe and possible to leave them undisturbed, they and the associated wasps will flourish during late summer, and by autumn the cooler weather seems to disperse them. If they become a problem on a childrens' play structure the willow can be hosed down with water regularly to wash the honeydew away.
As well as the aphids, we have seen lots of different ladybirds feeding on them, wasps, hornets and various moth caterpillars. We were also delighted to spot a warbler (willow or garden, identification between these two similar and secretive species is tricky!) on the willow fedge in our own garden this year, as well as a wren regularly feeding around the fedge.
From left to right: ladybirds feeding on giant willow aphids; poplar hawk moth caterpillar (which also feeds on willow); vapourer moth caterpillar
Posted 01 October 2015
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