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How to build a pyramid

Stag beetles are saproxylic invertebrates, that is their larvae are voracious feeders of fungus infected dead wood.
After mating a female will look for suitably infected rotten wood to lay her eggs in and thus ensure that her offspring will be well provided for, even though she will never look after them for she will die soon afterwards.
Pyramids are artificially built stag beetle nurseries and in order to achieve any degree of success several important requirements must be met [1].

You will need:

Method inspired by the German model [1]:

marking out the areaFirst the turf is cleared from the area where the pyramid is going to be built.
Then a 3 m diameter x 0.5 m deep pit is dug out. The turf must be kept aside as it will be needed at the end.
Meanwhile all the soil is also neatly heaped up nearby.
Ideally a good 10 cm layer of partly decayed oak-wood chippings should be placed on the bottom of the pit to conserve moisture.

log bundlesLogs are positioned vertically so that about one meter will protrude above the ground, and a good 50 cm below the soil level.
The logs are tied up in bundles as they are being placed from the center of the pit, this will not only ensure the stability of the structure but also that there will be no gaps for people to fall down.
Notice the youngster stapling the wires.
At this stage it is important to pay attention to how well the tops are going to look like when it is all finished.

trampling the soilAfter all the logs are carefully put in place, ideally a good layer of woodchips should be heaped up around the base of the logs, this to conserve the all important moisture. Then the soil is trampled around the base of the pyramid.

puting back the soilAll the soil that has been left over is now put back around the pyramid.

detailNotice the wires are almost at ground level and will not show when the turf is put back.

last stageThe turf is put back in the most natural way possible and here it is the final result!
To see how it has aged in the space of two and a half years click here.

New logo hopefully explaining the construction's purpose: "A DEAD WOOD NATURE RESERVE. For more information call 01206 853588".
Notice that some woodchips have been laid around the base of the logs. It is important that the pyramid doesn't dry out in the summer: the larvae like it moist.
Good luck!

This pyramid was built during the bank holiday weekend of 5th -7th May 2001 by a terrific bunch of volunteers, organized by NOISE and under the brilliant supervision of Richard Smith. All photos were taken by Maria Fremlin.

[1] - Klausnitzer, B. (1995) Die Hirschkäfer,91-92, Spectrum Akademischer Verlag.

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