Pinterest, you get me into trouble. Over the last year, I have been trying to give some attention to insects in my yard. One of the main reasons for this that my dad’s side of the family shares a love of birds. Growing up and seeing my Grandfather feedings birds from his hand didn’t seem impressive, but now, as I look out of my office window, I can count 3 seed feeders, 5 houses, a finch sock, a hummingbird feeder, 2 suet cages and the spot under the table where I sprinkle feed for the dozen or so doves that hang out there.
That many birds make it tough on pollinators, which are needed for the garden at the back of the yard. Salvia and petunias are scattered around with the vegetable plants, but that just wasn’t enough, so research was needed. Little did I know that “bug hotels” (aka insect house, pollinator palace – you get the idea) was a thing. Just check Pinterest. The idea is to provide as many little nooks and crannies as possible for insects to safely live in. There are general plans, as well as designs that help you attract specific insects. We went with a generic, as many environments as possible type design and mounted it to a 4″x4″x5′ post in between the garden and the compost pile, where it would be less likely to be disturbed.
There’s no project like a free project, and this was fun because it allowed me to use materials that were lying around waiting for a home. The main shell was an old shelf that was in the shed that was smashed by a pecan limb. The roof was a section left over from the new shed – thanks again pecan tree.
The interior is made of chunks of:
- pecan bark
- sections of dead dogwood tree
- blocks of dimensional lumber leftovers
- thick cardboard (an experiment, but something has been ripping it out, possibly a bird or squirrel for nests since Fall is coming?)
- poke berry stalks + bamboo (these will dry and hollow, allowing bugs to venture to the center)
- random other stuff, including an old toy cap gun I dug up in the garden.
This is a new project, but a couple of things to keep in mind:
- You want to provide a dry area – so you need a roof or an overhang – probably larger than what I have here. If you want bees, I’ve read that water will dissolve the casing over the eggs, so plan to house them in a dryer part of the bug hotel.
- Drill holes in larger pieces of wood, angled up so they don’t fill with water.
- As things shrink and settle you will probably need to jam more items into the hotel to keep things tight. I cheated a bit and strategically siliconed a couple of sticks to help with this.
This one has been up for a few weeks and is relatively empty other than spiders, but seeing dew on the little webs in the morning gives me hope that more bugs will continue to find it.