Hoverfly larvae are about as pretty as any other maggot, but grow into important pollinators and members of our ecosystems, as well as accomplished mimics of bees and wasps. Their nurseries are in stagnant pools of water that are uncommon in most gardens – however, we can help out with nothing more than some garden waste, water, a milk bottle, and a few minutes cutting. Read more
Sphagnum mosses are plants which you might easily overlook as you squelch through our bogs. They are star players in the creation and persistence of these wetlands though, thanks to their ability to retain water. They provide habitats and soil conditions for a wide variety of wildlife, and are part of the vital carbon storage system that Irish bogs provide. Read more
Yellow rattle is a pretty but otherwise inconspicuous flower that grows in grasslands. Beneath the soil, it harbours a dark secret however – it is a plant vampire, attaching to the roots of other plants and leeching away their nutrients. Far from being a villain, it has an important role to play in maintaining the competitive balance between grasses and other plants, and can be a useful tool in establishing a more diverse wildflower meadow. Read more
Japanese knotweed is a tall ornamental shrub with bamboo-like stems and pretty white flowers. It is also a serious problem for our native biodiversity, shading out its competition, and poisoning the soil for other plants. Evidence for it destroying buildings might be a little bit overstated, but it is nevertheless a troublesome invader that must be dealt with carefully lest it spread even further. Read more
Ireland hosts five species of tern, migratory seabirds which breed on our coasts and inland lakes in the summer months before migrating to warmer climes in the winter. The roseate tern breeds in huge numbers on Rockabill Island, where the colony is vitally important to the species’ European population as a whole. Climate change and invasive species threaten our terns, but work is ongoing to protect them and ensure their breeding success. Read more
Did you know that Ireland is home to several rodent species including the little wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)? Due to its long tail it is often referred to as the ‘long tail field mouse’ and this is where its Irish name ‘Luch Féir’ comes from. They are on average 8-10cm in length and weigh a tiny 25 grams…that is about 5 sugar cubes!
The wood mouse is often mistaken for the common house mouse, although the wood mouse has some distinguishing features including its large eyes, ears, and a much longer tail. Read more
Cork Nature Network have some great tips on how you can help biodiversity from your own back garden. Never underestimate how much you can contribute with a few simple changes. Today we look at how you can give garden birds a helping hand.
Providing a variety of food and shelter will attract different bird species to your garden. One of the most natural and sustainable ways to encourage birds into your own garden is by introducing plants which will provide shelter and an abundant food source such as seeds and berries. Native plants will also encourage native insects into your garden which birds can then feed on. Read more
The ozone layer…you hear about it; you know it is important but how much do you really know about it? Sometimes it is difficult to understand something we cannot see or touch but believe me, the ozone layer is extremely important. Without it, life as we know it would not exist. International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer has been celebrated on the 16th of September since 1994. This year we celebrate 35 years of global ozone protection. Read on to find out what the ozone layer is, how it effects biodiversity and what is being done to protect it. Read more
Why Blend in when you were born to stand out? This could be the motto for species which have evolved to be aposematic. Aposematic variation is a term used to describe species which advertise their defence mechanisms to potential predators. This is usually in the form of bold colours and striking patterns making the species highly visible. It could also be a certain noise they make, protruding spikes, odour, bad taste of the organism or even a chemical deterrent. It is basically a warning sign that says, ‘stay away’. These signs, smells and characteristics of the prey make the predator weary, potentially resulting in the predator avoiding the prey altogether. Read more
Rewilding is a somewhat radical approach to conservation, which aims to restore natural ecosystem processes by giving nature space to grow and function. It sometimes also involves the reintroduction of key native species which plays a big role in the functioning of the ecosystem, such as large herbivores and carnivores. Read more