Due to human occupation of more and more natural areas, insect habitat, and thus the possibility of survival, is significantly decreasing. An insect hotel is a good way to help the small inhabitants of the Earth.
Advantages of an insect hotel
At first, it is worth explaining why insect hotels are so useful. Until a few years ago, they were mainly used by gardeners, but recently they are gaining popularity in private homes as well. They provide an affordable form of supporting wildlife conservation. Thanks to them, insects such as bees and solitary wasps can make their nests, while others, such as butterflies and ladybugs, gain a place to safely hibernate.
The enormous importance of insects to the ecosystem cannot be overlooked. Bees and bumblebees pollinate plants that could not bear fruit without them. Ladybugs and goldfinches help control aphids. Other insect species also have an invaluable impact on the proper functioning of the natural environment, so it is worth protecting them.
Building an insect hotel
If you want to build an insect hotel, you do not need a large garden and expensive products. All you need is some outdoor space and materials you can find at home or on your walks. Unneeded furniture and equipment will also do: shelves, flower pots, cupboards and much more.
Wood is a durable and easy-to-use material. Drill the pieces you choose, making sure that the holes are at different angles so that they don’t flood the house when it rains. The holes can’t be too big; they should be 6 to 10 cm deep with a diameter of 2 to 5 mm. You can finish the cottage with a roof, which will certainly add to its charm.
Another frequently used material are plants that have hollow branches – bamboo, reed, elderberry. You can tie such branches , close them in a box or tin and hang them so that the stems lie horizontally. The holes of the twigs on one side should be covered if they do not have natural elbows. These types of hotels are especially favored by mason bees, which pollinate plants more efficiently than honey bees.
If you enjoy artwork, you’ll be interested in the possibility of building an insect hotel out of clay. Mix clay with chopped straw and then form a brick. Make the holes in a similar way to the wood house. Leave the construction to dry for a few days, avoiding sunny places. You can decorate the house with a frame or a roof. With such bricks you can create a small settlement. If you prefer ready-made solutions, use ordinary hollow bricks instead of clay.
The structure of your insect hotel should look like a cupboard with shelves and additional cross partitions to separate space for insect inhabitants. Secure the front of the house with small mesh metal mesh to protect the insects from bird attack. If you have a large garden, you can opt for a larger structure for which you will need boards and pallets.
Hotels for specific insect species
Some insect hotels are created with specific species in mind. When building a bumblebee house, choose unplastered wood in which you create holes 1.5 – 2 cm in diameter. Fill the interior with dry natural materials: hay, straw, leaves or moss. The minimum dimensions inside should not be less than 13 x 13 x 13 cm. It is interesting to note that bumblebees are attracted to the color blue, so paint the house in this color.
To help the goldfinches, make a box with holes punched in the walls. Ventilation grilles are suitable for the construction. Line the inside with dry leaves or straw and cover the whole thing with a roof. Make sure that the house hangs at a height of not less than 1.5 m.
Location of the insect house
An important issue is where to place the made house. A sunny, warm place sheltered from the wind is the best choice. An exception is the bumblebee hotel, which prefers shady areas.
Insect die-off is a problem that should not be underestimated. You can help these little creatures by spending a few hours of your free time. Making an insect hotel does not require special skills, but will provide a lot of entertainment, combining pleasure with usefulness.