Some ten quintillion insects are buzzing around the planet at this moment. They are the largest biomass of the terrestrial animal on the earth and play a crucial role in keeping us alive.
Insects spend their time pollinating the flowering plants and trees, producing most of the food we eat. Some of the creepy crawlies spend their time helping to decompose organic matter and participating in soil formation. Can you imagine what this planet would be like if we didn’t have dung beetles working with animal manure? And I love insects for their often peculiar quirky looks.
If you live in an urban setting, we have a particular 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 require 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 the 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 ground 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! Keeping an insect hotel in your garden 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.
Page 163 of Planet Schooling – How to create a permaculture living laboratory in your backyard walks you through how to make an insect hotel for homeschooling activities. Purchase here.
- 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 hardwood shelf (I found mine on the curbside, but charity and tip shops usually have an assortment of wooden shaped boxes).
- Variety of twigs, wood chips, pine needles and leaves.
- Blocks or logs of untreated wood with holes,
- Old brick,
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks.
- A flat piece of wood or old umbrella (for the roof),
- Wire to hang the finished hotel or some post on which to elevate it.
‘Bee’ Happy With Bees!
If your focus is native bees, consider 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 tube 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
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