TAKE CARE OF INSECTS IN YOUR GARDEN
Insects do a useful job for us pollinating plants, or helping us fight pests (e.g. aphids). Unfortunately, many of them die off due to habitat loss, for instance as a result of the development of the built environment, and the fashion for evenly trimmed lawns. To help insects, it is good to provide them with a piece of a “wild garden” or a wildflower meadow. Constructing the so-called insect hotel is also an interesting idea.
In the past insects used to find shelter, for example, in thatched roofs, nooks between beams and bricks, in cellars and attics. In days of concrete and waterproof construction we can assist them – all it takes are some natural materials, good ideas and knowledge about future inhabitants.
To construct a hotel we will use: straw, reed, bamboo and other tubular shoots (forsythia or elderberry), moss, pine cones and bark. The following materials will be also useful: stones, bricks, tiles, slats, wooden pallets, PVC pipes and clay. It may be a small house, e.g. a slatted crate filled with one type of material or divided into sectors and floors. It can also be a wicker basket, wooden pallet or clay pot – the size, shape and materials used depend primarily on the requirements of insects:
- Wild bees (e.g. mason bees) lead a lonely way of life and although they do not produce honey, their role in pollinating flowers is invaluable. They winter in tubular shoots, holes in the ground and wood. Hence, in order to prepare them a shelter, we will need a bunch of shoots empty inside with one end closed (10-15 cm long). We hang such a bunch under a roof or place it in a box (pot) as one of the sectors. We can also use stump with drilled holes of different size (2-8 mm) and depth (6-10 cm). All holes should be directed slightly downwards to prevent water from dripping in.
- Bumble bees, thanks to their long tongue, pollinate flowers that other pollinators cannot cope with. These insects winter underground, in litter and under tree roots. So we can dig a small hole and put a pot inside (upside down, remembering about the entrance of about 1.5-2 cm) or line its sides with boards/bricks. The interior is further lined with moss, hay or sawdust, and the whole unit is covered with a plank, keeping in mind that the entrance needs to be shielded to avoid flooding. This can be achieved by placing a larger plank on bricks above the unit. It is preferable to place the hotel in a secluded, shaded spot.
- We all know green lacewings (Chrysopa perla) by sight. These are insects with delicate, gold and pale green wings. Adult green lacewings and their larvae help us combat aphids by eating a lot of these pests. A hotel for green lacewings can be made of a box with perforated walls, filled with leaves, straw, hay or moss with a leak-proof roof. It can be hung at a height of at least 1.5 m in a warm and secluded place.
- Lady beetles, which love aphids and spider mites, spend winter under dead leaves or tree bark. Let’s line a pot or a box with twigs for them.