Our gardens are home to a wide range of living creatures. It is estimated that the average backyard garden attracts more than 2,000 insect species at any given time. Some of these would be considered pests as they destroy our flowers and vegetables, however most are beneficial as they play a crucial role in pollinating flowers. Insects are vital for cross pollination of flowers, vegetables crops and fruit trees in our gardens.
One of the greatest pollinators are native bees. Unlike their European counterparts, native bees are nonaggressive, unlikely to sting, solitary in nature and nest alone to lay their young, whereas the highly social European Honey Bees live in a hive with a Queen bee and thousands of worker bees. Native bees vary in size, shape, colouration and nesting habits, however the factor that ties them together is their purpose which is to pollinate plants.
Although bees are well known for their role as pollinators, they are not the only pollinators attracted to our gardens. Other beneficial insects include beetles, butterflies, green lacewings, leaf miners, white flies and mole crickets.
Some say that beetles were the very first pollinators.Beetles pollinate 88% of all flowering plants - that’s more than any other animal. Although not as efficient pollinators as bees, butterflies are still important for pollinating gardens as they have the added skill of seeing the colour red which directs them toward the brightly hued blooms.
Insects are in rapid decline due to the over use of pesticides, reduction in habitat, monoculture agriculture practices and effects of climate change. By providing the right habitat we can greatly increase the number of beneficial insects naturally visiting in our gardens and contribute to environmental conservation.
About a third of our food supply depends on pollination. Bees are essential for the production of fruits and vegetables, and their loss is negatively impacting our food chain. Without them one third of our food crops would not produce fruit or set seed for the next generation. These beneficial insects support biodiversity which in turn helps increase the productivity of our ecosystem.
Insect hotels provide a place of sheltered sanctuary in winter and nesting space for any local insects in summer. They are becoming popular amongst gardeners as they encourage insect pollination and reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides.
- Promote the importance of plant pollinator
- Supplement the increasing loss of natural habitats
- Encourage beneficial insects to help control pests
- Stimulate biodiversity and ecological balance in the garden
- Offer an opportunity for educating the community about how balanced ecosystems work
How to Build an Insect Hotel
Make use of natural and recycled materials that are non-toxic.
- Wooden box that is minimum of 20cm deep
- Small wood blocks, clay bricks, logs and/or twigs
- Open one side of the wooden box
- Create a sloping roof on one side of the box to deflect the rain
- Drill small angled holes in the blocks or logs varying from 3mm to 10mm - the light angle will ensure any moisture can run out
- Place the blocks or logs within the box
- Locate a sheltered spot within your garden that loves morning sun exposure
- Position the insect hotel in this selected position with the opening facing the sun