Accomodate insects while adding charm to your garden


By Juanice Gray

There’s no ordering room service in these hotels.

“Insect hotels” are showing up at most retailers and most, like me, are usually looking for ways to eradicate insects, not provide better accommodations for them. I saw these cute little houses in a store recently and decided to find out why we needed insect hotels here. I found out, as our lawns, gardens, and urban landscapes have become increasingly manicured, habitats for all types of wildlife, including many insects, have declined. Just as birdhouses are designed to give birds a safe home in an uncertain environment, insect hotels provide shelter for insects in areas where human activity has removed the best hiding spots, mostly in towns.

Depending on your perspective on our six-legged friends, the phrase “insect hotel” may sound like either a joke or a nightmare. The structures, typically constructed from a variety of recycled materials such as pallet wood, twigs, bark, lichen and leaves, with different compartments or layers designed to attract different species.

They are also visually pleasing and add charm to the outdoor flower garden. They attract bugs, but also wood-dwelling bees. The upside to the homeowner in the south, where “skeeters” and other pests are abundant, they act as pollinators and pest-controllers, and provide food for butterflies, beetles and our fine-feathered friends.

These structures are often providing shelter, but not necessarily feeding areas according to the Audobon Society. Beyond the roof over their heads, insects should have access to a variety of native plants and a source of water. At any rate, our backyard birds will thank you for the all-you-can-eat buffet. Information obtained from the Audobon Society.