Insect Hotels: Encourage Beneficial Native Insects to Check into Your Garden


Beneficial Insect Hotel Structure 

Why would you want to offer lodging to insects, you ask? As organic gardeners, drawing in beneficial insects as pollinators is a great way to increase production in our backyard garden or small orchard. Beneficial insects also help to deal with the not-so-beneficial insects. So, we get to avoid chemicals and attract pollinators. That is a win-win in my book.

How do you make an insect hotel? The purpose is to provide a structure filled with natural materials for beneficial insects and pollinators to lay eggs in, as well as hibernate in. In our area in Kansas, we are hoping an insect hotel will attract mason bees, beetles, lacewings, ladybugs, wasps, and spiders. Not all sound like nice guests, but all are friends of the gardener. Attracting native pollinators is more important than ever with the decline of honey bees. We all need to make our garden a place of hospitality.

Basics. When we set out to build ours, we kept these two rules in mind: face the open side of the structure to the south so that insects will benefit from the sun's warmth, and cover the top to protect them from wet weather.

Structure. We gathered lots of natural, recycled materials. We started with an old wooden crate that had been hanging out in our shed. It was perfect, because it was only open on one side. We used discarded boards for making shelves and a pitched roof.

Building the rooms. Then came pine cones, old logs, twigs, bark, terracotta shards, and some materials that we gleaned from yard and garden clean up. This is the kind of project you can be as creative as you want with — so let those creative juices loose! You can also purchase components for insect habitats and even purchase complete habitats. We were able to build ours completely from materials we had lying around and spent nothing on it.

5/15/2018 8:07:13 PM

Great article. I'm building one tomorrow; probably two or more.

5/15/2018 11:55:04 AM

I have some dry bamboo I acquired and plan to make a house out of it as soon as I have time.

5/15/2018 7:37:07 AM

Great article Gail. I especially like the recycling to help the pollinators.

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