Nature does a lot to help our fruits and vegetables along, especially by providing a bunch of beneficial insects to pollinate our crops and prey on pests. It’s impossible to say just how valuable these creepy crawlies are in keeping the cycle of garden life going, but we are very indebted to them!
It wasn’t so long ago that most gardening books recommended spraying a crop to within an inch of its life whenever the tiniest pest dared to rear its head. Thankfully these are more enlightened times and rather than wipe out both pest and predator gardeners are nowadays encouraged to strike a balance in the kitchen garden, nurturing the beneficial creatures so that they in turn can get rid of the undesirable ones. Making or buying an insect hotel is a great way to achieve this.
An insect hotel offers free living space to its occupants. In return, when it’s time to check out they’ll be right on site to go about their pollination and pest control – a mutually beneficial relationship. The good news is it costs nothing to make an insect hotel, just a little time and effort. Invertebrates aren’t fussy as long as they have got somewhere to bed down and lay their eggs, so you can go as elaborate or simple as your tastes permit.
While it is fun to make your own hotel, ready-made insect hotels are also available to buy, and Giordano’s is carrying them for the first time this season.
The simplest structure is a wooden box open at one end and stuffed with the material that insects will bed down in. Make sure your hotel is watertight so its residents don’t get a drenching after every downpour. You can make lots of small hotels or one major high-rise.
Decorating the rooms of your insect hotel is the creative part. Think like a bug and pander to their every need! Different types of insect will prefer different room furnishings. If your hotel is big enough you can mix and match, using different materials within each layer or section. Try one or more of the following materials.
Drilled wood: Solitary bees and wasps are attracted to holes drilled into wood as they offer the perfect place to lay their eggs in peace. Holes of different sizes offer spaces for different species.
Rotting logs: Perfect for wood-boring beetles whose larvae will feast on the decaying wood. Spiders like this too.
Twigs, sticks and stems: Bundled together, sticks and twigs of different sizes offer welcome lodgings for ground beetles. You’ll also be offering a vacancy to ladybugs, which suck up aphids and nuisance insects such as mites, and hoverflies, which are both pollinator and pest patroller.
Bamboo canes: Hollow stems such as bamboo canes provide another hidey hole for solitary bees, who will lay their eggs then seal up the hole using mud or leaf litter.
For more on how to make your own bug hotel, click on this link. https://gardentherapy.ca/build-a-bug-hotel/
To buy one ready-made for your yard, visit us at Giordano’s Gift and Garden and get one like the one pictured here:
It’s all very well building or buying a handsomely equipped insect hotel but for it to become the destination of choice it has to be in prime position. Set your hotel up in a sheltered area of the garden or a spot away from the prevailing wind. Most insects prefer slightly damp conditions but solitary bees demand the sunniest aspect possible to help them get out and about on a cold day. Your hotel will become fully occupied quicker if it is located close to an existing insect hotspot: a hedge, bank of nectar-rich flowers or a pond, for example.
Don’t limit your insect-attracting ambitions to just one hotel. Remember that as well as helping the gardener out, insects support animals higher up the food chain, which will in turn go on to help us out. Log piles left in out-of-the-way corners, wildflowers sown around the perimeter of your productive plot, or a small pond are just a few of the other ways you can help. By doing so you’ll be enriching the local ecosystem and ensuring your garden is as productive as it can be.