Bugs, critters, creepy crawlies – call them what you like. When it comes to insects people can have mixed emotions.
But love them or hate them there’s no getting away from the fact that insects play a vital role in our gardens and are essential for sustaining our natural environment.
If we want our gardens to thrive and our natural environment to survive, then insects are an integral part of the picture and we need to start looking out for them.
A great way to do this is by building a bug hotel.
This simple and easy task is one of the best ways to manage our gardens and support nature at the same time.
Designed to attract the more well-meaning insects and small creatures onto our land they provide a safe environment in which insects and small creatures can lodge; and act as a natural way of managing the unwanted plant munching pests that give us gardening grief year-on-year.
They sure beat picking up a spray gun to wreak chemical havoc on every living thing – good and bad.
In fact, according to The Wildlife Trust, an average garden can contain over 2,000 different types of insect and most of these are indeed beneficial to our gardens.
For instance, the ‘spined soldier bug’ and the ‘parasitic wasp’ are two critters that you actually want to encourage. They are just two varieties of insect that will eat the pests responsible for demolishing your dahlias, ravishing your roses and scoffing your spring vegetables.
A bug’s life
What’s more, bug hotels are an incredibly fun thing to make and provide an excellent way of introducing children and grandchildren to the wonders of the natural world.
Would-be wildlife enthusiasts will gain insight into the life of the mini-beast, teaching them about the complexities of eco-systems and every animal’s right to be respected.
And a bug hotel need not even be as elaborate as its sounds. Bees, butterflies, ladybirds, as well as some smaller four legged guests will appreciate the home you have built for them no matter how big or small, basic or elaborate.
Whether you splash out on a glass fronted arrangement from the garden centre, or build your own using recyclable materials that you’ve collected from here, there and everywhere. Your generosity will be repaid ten-fold by your gardens smallest residents.
Fixtures and furnishings
In fact, home-made structures using old stones, wood and the like are most suitable for insects and small creatures. The types of materials you can easily find lying around in your garden perfectly recreate their natural habitat and the nooks and crannies they seek out for warmth and safety.
As well as stone and wood, other ideas for fitting out your bug hotel include wood pallets, terracotta pots, roofing tiles, bark, pine cones, dry leaves, moss and straw. You can use just about anything, but it’s best to stick with natural materials.
Location, location, location
Once you have compiled your pile of recycled loot, choose a suitable, level piece of ground on which to build your structure. It’s best to cater for all tastes and preferences, so building your bug hotel in partial sun will keep solitary bees and the like happy. Most creatures, however, like cooler, darker environments so consider building your bug hotel with one side facing a wall, fence or hedge.
After that it’s time to create your foundations: You can use larger pieces of wood, bricks and material to create a solid ‘H’ base structure and then build up from there, loosely filling in the holes with smaller pieces so that there are plenty of gaps for our bugs to make home in.
Of course, every ‘des-res’ needs a suitable outdoor space. To accommodate the beneficial creatures and critters required for a diverse and abundant biosphere, your garden might need to offer more than a bug hotel, if it is to really thrive.
It needn’t be big – even a pot garden on a balcony or patio can encourage more bug life onto your land.
Any number of cultivated garden plants or wild flowers will draw in and will help satisfy the pollinators. With a dwindling bee population, this has never been more important.
Small, shallow mud or water features provide much-needed fresh water for insects, birds and small mammals. There are many water feature options to fit all size gardens and budgets. Similarly, planting fruit trees and other berry bearing plants whether in pots or directly into the ground will attract fauna into your garden by providing them with more of the food they need to thrive.
Spread the joy
Furthermore, creating borders with bushes and hedges rather than walls and panel fencing will help the wildlife move through gardens with ease – helping nature spread its goodness to your neighbour’s gardens and beyond.
Better still, get your neighbours involved and encourage them to build their own insect and wildlife haven. When it comes to encouraging biodiversity in our communities; the more people who are willing to get involved, the better.
Make a weekend of it!
Through cross-pollination, providing food for birds and small mammals; and clearing up the debris and rubbish left behind; insects play an important part in keeping our immediate natural environment alive.
So gather up the children and grandchildren this weekend and get building! Creating a bug hotel is a fun and worthwhile activity for all the family and will help keep pests at bay. In return you’ll be rewarded with a healthy, thriving and pet friendly environment for everyone to enjoy.
If you get stuck
But if you need more inspiration or advice on creating a wildlife-friendly garden, please contact Thames Valley Landscapes.
As landscape gardeners, we know a thing or two about building 5* accommodation for your local wildlife, like this one we created for Tortworth Court in South Gloucestershire, and can provide you with the tips and guidance you need on how to create the perfect eco-environment in your back yard and grounds to befit even the princeliest of bug hotels!
Call 01628 629720 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.