The first time I saw a bug hotel, it reminded me of my childhood, because it looked like a fairy’s hut. Bug hotel – it’s a decorative house with plant material inside that provides shelter to overwintering bugs. It is popular in many countries around the world. Gardeners use it not just as a garden decoration, it performs many other useful functions.
Facts about bugs
• There are more than eight million different species of insects and they make up about 90 percent of all animal species in the world.
• Insects are vital for plant reproduction. They pollinate about 85 percent of the world’s plants and about 80 percent of species of plants for human consumption, distribute plant seeds. Bees are not the only pollinators of plants.
• Bumblebees, wasps, flies, butterflies and other beetles also do this work. If pollinating insects disappeared, most of the vegetation and herbivores would disappear.
• Insects ventilate, loosen and replenish the soil with nutrients.
• They break down bio-waste, help break down old leaves and wood, manure, so organic matter and minerals get into the soil faster. Insects also help to spread fungi, that perform a decomposing function. Ants and beetles dig tunnels in the soil that improve the flow of water and nutrients to plants.
• Humans have domesticated only one insect – the bee. After you build a bug hotel, you will have the opportunity to observe and find out more about their life and functions in nature all year round.
• 5 percent of insect species are classified as pests, but most insects feed on garden and orchard parasites, live plants, or their decaying remains. Many mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles feed on insects. The decline of insects can lead to the extinction of many other species.
The bug hotel provides shelter for insects. It can come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on what insects it is intended for. Fruit and vegetable growers build such houses in their gardens to entice pollinating insects. The abundance of insect pollinators always guarantees higher yields. Many people like ladybugs, because they kill garden pests. This is a natural way to fight garden parasites. Some bugs hotels are built for butterflies so they can overwinter. Lonely wasps and bees visit bug houses, make their nests, lay eggs in them and hide out for the winter.
Build a bug hotel
The frame of bug hotels is usually made of wood, with many spaces inside, depending on the insects it is made for. Inside there may be stones or old tiles, tree blocks, various wood, old stumps, bark, bonded reeds, bamboo, straw, cones, twigs, moss, leaves, old red bricks with holes. Hotel materials with holes encourage insects to settle, make nests, and leave larvae to mature. The different components attract different species. The more varied the house materials, the more species of insects you will attract, as many bugs live only in a certain type of material. In nature, insects overwinter in dry wood, under the bark of dead trees, beneath the forest floor or in tree groves. A bug hotel can be their wintering place, and for nocturnal insects it can be a hiding place during the day.
Lonely bees and wasps
Wasps feed on the eggs of various pests, thus stopping their spread. They are extremely effective in the extermination of insect pests. The wasps will visit your garden if there are flowering plants. Lonely wasps do not live in a hive with the Queen Wasp. There are males and females. A fertilized female makes a nest out of wood or stone and drills into the wood. The lonely bees live in bug hotels. The bee hotel is made up of a piece of sawn wood or a trunk of a cut tree, in which holes of various sizes (such as 2, 4, 6 and 8 mm) are drilled approximately a few centimeters apart.
Cut bamboo pieces are also suitable. This attracts a lot of bees. The holes should be slightly inclined to prevent rainwater from entering. Stone blocks are also used. Holes are drilled in the material, but not so as to create a tunnel to the other side. The holes must be smooth to protect the fragile wings of the insects.
The best place for a bug hotel
The perfect place for a bug hotel is a spot where it is warm, for example on the south side of the house. At the end of the winter, the first insects after overwintering start to look for a place to live. Some species make their nests in clay, between stones, sand or bricks. Simple bamboo or reed fiber, tied or hung in an old pot in a warm place, is ideal for solitary bees. Bamboo must be cut in a way that allows insects to enter easily. You can add elderberry, rose, and blackberry shoots as a food source.
You can use a wooden box filled with dried twigs or straw as a house for ladybugs. Ladybugs tend to overwinter in larger groups, so this will encourage them to settle in your bug hotel.
Butterflies, who fall asleep for the winter, like sheltered places such as cracks in homes, shelters, bundles of leaves. Some bug hotels have butterfly compartments with vertical slits adapted for sensitive animal wings. Butterflies are an endangered species of insect for the third year in a row. If you want butterflies in your garden, plant clematis, partridges, asters, serpents, and echinacea. These beautiful insects perform the function not only as garden decoration but also serve as pollinators of flowers.
Pests also take advantage of the access to bug hotel. Parasitic wasps lay eggs among other nests to provide their larvae with easily accessible food without feeding them themselves. Moreover, bug hotels attract predatory insects, which help control unwanted insect pests. Earwig, for example, is a very useful insect for fruit trees because it eats aphids that live on the trees and interfere with fruit growth. A clay flower pot, hung upside down, filled with straw, wool or sawdust, will be an ideal house for earwigs.
Bumblebees are grown in small hives. They pollinate vegetables growing in greenhouses. The bumblebees live in grass caves in the wild. Watch your bug hotel to see when they arrive. Do not be surprised if you find unseen insects while working in the garden near the hut.
Bug hotel is a way to save bees and other polinator insects from extinction
Due to increased industry, mobile frequencies, and the use of glyphosate and other pesticides, bees and other insect pollinators are declining rapidly throughout the world. Insects are invaluable to nature, agriculture, and human health. People build insect hotels all over the world on organic farms, in pubs, restaurants, and garden centers. Carefully designed, decorative bug hotel can be a garden decoration and an educational tool for your children, grandchildren and yourself. As a result, we will gain a deeper understanding of insects, grow our love for nature, and develop an understanding of environmental issues. Building a bug hotel is a fun activity. You can plan it as a fun project to diversify your summer routine.