Insects follow hedgehogs

In recognition of completing a year of initiatives to help hedgehogs, we have received another inscription – the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS)– on our biodiversity award. This takes us to the half way point in the six-year Nurture Biodiversity Scheme, having supported birds and bumblebees in the first two years on the programme. For the next 12 months, the team will concentrate on insects.

In looking to support hedgehogs, we met criteria set out by Nurture Landscapes and the BHPS. Our initiatives included installing new hedgehog houses, checking there were corridors through the park for the creatures to move, and improving food supplies. As beetles and other insects are an important food source for hedgehogs, we ensured they had plenty of suitable habitats, by stacking logs vertically, rather than horizontally.

Trail cameras have showed that hedgehogs have been hibernating in some of the new homes over last winter. We have moved the houses that the hedgehogs haven’t used yet to more secluded areas on the park.

We also joined the BHPS and followed its advice, for example  adding stickers to strimmers to remind gardeners to check for hedgehogs before using them. As the scheme also required Howbery to help raise the profile of the prickly creatures, the park hosted a lunchtime talk about them for the local community.

“We will continue to monitor hedgehog house use,” said Howbery Park Estates Manager Donna Bowles. “While our focus is switching to insects this year, that doesn’t mean we will stop supporting hedgehogs suddenly – the focus year is just the starting point for ongoing work. We’re currently looking at adding some more hedgerows, for example. Plus, of course, by trying to increase diversity and numbers of insects, we will be providing more food for hedgehogs.”