|Our bug hotel|
Why build a bug hotel?
A bug hotel is an important winter habitat for beneficial insects and also it can be a fabulous piece of garden art and a focal point for a well loved garden.
Our own back gardens are home to a huge variety of wildlife. The average garden could hold over 2,000 different species of insect! Most of these little critters actually cause little damage to our lovely flowers, fruit and vegetables. There are a few which gardeners call pests, however, many of the creatures help us control the pests.
By providing the right habitats we can increase the number of beneficial insects in our gardens.
Sadly, some wild invertebrates, such as bumblebees, solitary bees and butterflies, are declining in numbers in the countryside, so by providing homes we can help with their conservation.
Where to build your bug hotel.
Many insects like cool damp places so choose a spot in some shade near a hedge or under a tree. Also if you put your hotel near a place that insects will already be such as hedgerows, ponds and scrub, they are likely to find it much quicker.
Some, invertebrates like some sun, so put some pots on the sunny side or elsewhere in your garden.
Choose a level, even surface: the hotel may end up fairly heavy, so will need firm ground.
Building your bug hotel
We recommend using some old pallets for the basic structure. Pallet are easy to get hold of and using recycled materials is also very sustainable. Make sure the pallets are the same size and it does not need to be too high.
There are many different ideas when filling in the gaps; twigs, leaves, bricks, stones and pine cones are often used. Here some ideas to get you started:
• Holes for solitary bees. Hollow stems, such as bamboo canes, or holes drilled into blocks of wood, make good nest sites for solitary bees. Holes of different sizes means you will be catering for different species. Solitary bees like warmth, so place your habitat in a sunny spot or on the sunny side of the hotel. Bees block their egg chambers so look out for canes blocked with mud or leaf.
• Dead wood is an increasingly rare habitat as we tidy our gardens. Dead wood is essential for the larvae of wood-boring beetles to grow. It also supports many fungi, which help break down the woody material. Centipedes and woodlice love crevices under the bark.
• Loose bark. Beetles, centipedes, spiders and woodlice all live beneath decaying wood and bark. Woodlice and millipedes help to break down woody plant material making them essential in the garden recycling system.
• Many garden invertebrates need a safe place to hibernate in through the winter, therefore lots of nooks and crannies means there are many different rooms available at our hotel for all the different insects.
• Dry Leaves. More homes for a variety of invertebrates.
• Straw and hay provide opportunities for invertebrates to burrow in and find safe, warm hibernation sites.
• Frogs eat slugs and other garden pests. Although they need a pond to breed in, they can also spend most of the year out of water. To amphibian holes to sleep in we recommend using stone and tiles to provide cool damp conditions. They must also be at the centre of the hotel as they need it to be frost free in the winter.
• Lacewings and their larvae eat lots of aphids and other garden pests. To make them a home roll up a piece of corrugated cardboard and put it in a waterproof cylinder like a coke bottle.
• Ladybirds and their larvae are also great aphid munchers! The adults hibernate over winter and they need dry sticks or leaves to hide in.
• Every spring queen bumblebees search for a site to build a nest and found a new colony. An upturned flowerpot in a warm sheltered place might be used.
• Why not plant some nectar-rich flowers around your bug hotel to provide all your bugs with lots of food and to attract more insects to the hotel. habitat.
Enjoy making your hotel. Please send us any pictures of your newly built hotel, you never know there might be a prize in it for you!!!
The Blue Lizard Adventures Team