When supporting the biodiversity of our environment, it is easy to overlook the contributions of the smallest creatures that inhabit our gardens. Insects are one of the most successful living organisms and constitute almost half of all species on earth. Too often we kill them without realizing that they are actually our allies. Some help decomposition by eating large amounts of dead leaves and spent organic matter while others eat caterpillars and small snails that attack our vegetables and flowers. Our bug hotel provides lots of different habitats for different kinds of helpful creatures to live in the summer and hibernate throughout the winter.
Here are some of the materials we used to provide habitats for specific creatures:
The hotel structure was made from recycled wooden pallets and off-cuts donated by Home Depot in Merrifield.
Hollow stems, such as old bamboo canes, and holes drilled into blocks of wood, make good nest sites for solitary bees such as leaf cutting bees, bumble bees and carpenter bees who don’t live in hives.
Dead wood provides shelter and food for the larvae of wood-boring beetles. It also supports many fungi, which help break down the woody material. Crevices under the bark hold centipedes and woodlice.
Straw and dried leaves provide places for invertebrates to burrow and find safe sites for hibernation. The protected base of the bug hotel provides a perfect place for toads to hibernate.
Ladybugs and their larvae eat enormous amounts of aphids which can destroy flower and vegetable crops. The adult ladybugs hibernate over winter and need dry sticks or leaves in which to hide.
Lacewings and their larvae also consume aphids, as well as other garden pests. We made a home for lacewings by rolling up corrugated cardboard and putting it in recycled plastic water bottles to keep it dry
On the top of our hotel we planted deer-resistant greenery. This will help keep the spaces below cool, damp and inviting to our guests. We’ll continue to monitor the use of the hotel throughout the spring and summer, working hard to earn and keep a 5-star rating. Come and observe our bug hotel when you collect your child from school. It’s located in the woods, behind the gazebo in the Sensory Garden.