There are some 10 quintillion insects buzzing around the planet at this moment. They are the largest biomass of the terrestrial animal on the planet and play an extremely important role in keeping us alive.
Insects spend their time pollinating the flowering plants and trees, which produces most of the food we eat. Some of the creepy crawlies spend their time helping to decompose organic matter and participating in the formation of soil. Can you imagine what this planet would be like if we didn’t have dung beetles working with animal manure? And I absolutely love insects for their often peculiar quirky looks.
If you live in an urban setting we have a certain responsibility to help insects find shelter. A place where they can take a break, have some loving and lay eggs. In winter, insects need little nooks to hide and hibernate and during summer they need little nesting places. If you are unsure whether you like insects, read on…
“One out of three foods that you bite comes from the courtesy of pollinators”
Insects help keep the balance in garden ecosystem. Adult dragonflies eat other flying insects, particularly midges and mosquitoes. Ladybugs are primarily known as predators of aphids but they also prey on many agricultural pests. Dung beetles also play a remarkable role in keeping your soil healthy. They burrow and consume dung, which thus improves nutrient recycling and soil structure. Ants are ecosystem engineers, they build corridors and galleries, which increases soil porosity. Ants also make chemical changes to the soil by shifting the pH of the soil towards neutral and increasing the nutrient content.
It’s time to get working! Make an insect hotel and encourage them to move into your garden! By keeping an insect hotel in your garden you will ensure that your herbs, veggies, and flowers will always have pollinators visiting them. Plus you’ll help to contribute to the health of your local ecosystem.
- Shelter for insects
- Contribute to the health of the local ecosystem
- Upcycling materials
- Encouraging insects to move into the garden and help with pollination and decomposition of organic matter.
DIY Insect Hotel
- Open wooden box, or small wooden shelf (made from hard wood). I found mine on the curb side but charity and tip shops usually have an assortment of wooden shaped boxes.
- Assortment of twigs, wood chips, pine needles and leaves.
- Blocks or logs of untreated wood with holes,
- Old brick,
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks.
- Flat piece of wood or old umbrella (for the roof),
- Wire to hang the finished hotel, or some type of post on which to elevate it.
How to build:
- Drill various holes into the blocks and logs of untreated wood. Use different sized drilling pieces so that different types of insects can use the holes for shelter or nesting.
- Cut all the blocks, logs, twigs, etc to the same depth as the wooden box/shelf.
- Lay your wooden box/shelf down and play around with the positioning of the twigs, wood chips, pine needles, bamboo pieces, blocks, logs and brick. Be as creative as you want <3
- Once you are happy with the assortment use the hot glue to stick all the items into place. Begin gluing from either the bottom left- or right-hand corner of your open wooden box/shelf. This will then provide the support for the following pieces.
- Use the leaves to fill in any unnecessary gaps.
- Place the insect love shack in your desired location, make sure that it is elevated from the ground so it doesn’t get too much humidity. Remember when choosing a location, chose a place that is sheltered from wind, heavy rain, birds and other possible hazards.
‘Bee’ Happy With Bees!
If your focus is native bees, then take into consideration that different bee species require different sized ‘bee holes’ for shelter and egg-laying. Try to space the holes at least 1-2cm apart and never drill entirely through the wooden block or log. These beautiful native bees from Brazil were happy to use a pipe for their home. The pipe was then protected.
Food for Thought
“I am attracted to bees because I like honey—it is really delicious. Their product is something we cannot produce, very beautiful, isn’t it? I exploit them too much, I think. Even these insects have certain responsibilities, they work together very nicely. They have no constitution, they have no law, no police, nothing, but they work together effectively. This is because of nature. Similarly, each part of a flower is not arranged by humans but by nature. The force of nature is something remarkable. We human beings, we have constitutions, we have law, we have a police force, we have religion, we have many things. But in actual practice, I think we are behind those small insects.” Dalai Lama.
Author: Laila Helena
Hot BUZZ: The Importance of Bees Youtube Video