Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Horny Gollach Hotel... what is it all about?




Attached to one of our apple trees - and probably to be extended to other trees, if our guests like the accomodation - is a green bottle full of straw. What is it for? It's a Horny Gollach Hotel!

The Horny Gollach
The horny gollach's an awesome beast, 
Souple an' scaley; 
He ha twa horns an' a hantle o' feet 
An' a forky tailie. 

I have heard people complain about earwigs (or horny gollachs) eating their fruit and have also read it on fruit-growing forums etc. I think it is unfair. They probably ARE awesome beasts for the fruit grower. Earwigs eat a wide range of small insects, notably woolly and other aphids, scale insects, mites, small larvae of all sorts - including codlin moth. If they are present in quantity it is believed they can equal blue tits and wasps in their effectiveness.

If you have earwigs you may see them or their frass, a dark powder, in the clusters of fruit where they hide; it washes off easily. They never seem to touch undamaged fruit, and create far fewer problems than other equally voracious predators such as wasps.

Research is being carried out about them as beneficial insects in orchards; if you want more information, visit the Suffolk Traditional Orchard Group's website and read the Autumn 2013 newsletter.

In the meantime, don't spray your trees with insecticides. Let the awesome horny gollachs play their part in keeping your fruit pest free.


How to make the hotel

Remove the bottom from a plastic bottle, leave the cap on. Fill with rolled-up corrugated cardboard or darken the bottle and loosely fill with straw. Make holes in the bottom edge of the bottle, some to tie a line across to stop the cardboard or straw falling out and some to use to tie it to the tree. Tie at the top and bottom making sure the bottom edge is in contact with the trunk so the earwigs can easily enter the foyer from the trunk.


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