Wildlife in September

Autumn begins and the trees and hedgerows are full of ripening berries and seeds with hawthorn haws and rose hips shining red, while sloes, blackberries and elderberries are midnight black.

These tasty berries are an advert to hungry animals to eat them. The undigested seeds are spread to a new area where it has more chance of germinating with less competition.

Some trees such as field maple, ash and sycamore, give their seeds wings to help them float away from the parent tree.

Other trees including oaks employ help from animals to spread their seeds. Jays and grey squirrels pick up acorns and stash them in the ground to get them through the harsh winter to come. Not all are found again however, and with a lot of luck these may germinate to grow into new oak trees, which bear their own fruit.

Galls – not to be mistaken for seeds, galls are often home to the larvae of different species of gall insects, including gall wasps, gall midges and aphids (although some galls are also induced by bacteria, fungi and viruses).

The adults will lay their eggs within the stems, leaves, buds or flowers of a particular plant during the spring where the larva will then grow until it is ready to leave by creating a small hole to crawl through. The gall that you can see is the abnormal growth from the plant as a reaction to the parasitic invasion.

Other things to look out for:

  • Craneflies (or daddy-long-legs) appear in their greatest numbers and seemingly fly in a hap hazard way. The craneflies legs break off easily as a way of escaping predators.
  • Even though hedgehogs are starting to build up body reserves for their winter hibernation, late litters of young are common in September, especially if the previous litter has not survived. Unfortunately these youngsters are less likely to survive the winter than those born in early summer. Earthworms beetles, slugs and snails are pursued by hedgehogs now with added vigour. Do not be tempted to give hedgehogs milk and bread as this is unsuitable, but rather if you can afford it put out meaty pet food.