Tuesday 13 November 2012

My insect hotel

During 2012 lots of gardeners in the UK and elsewhere noticed a scarcity of insects in their gardens, especially the beautiful ones like butterflies and dragonflies, and the beneficial ones such as hoverflies, ladybirds etc - and the general shortage of bees is already well known. This was probably due to the really awful weather we had, and hopefully is not going to become the norm. With a bit of luck next year's weather will be better, enabling insect populations to re-establish, but because of the long-term effects of Climate Change we can't count on this, so I think we all need to do whatever we can to promote the survival of insects of all sorts. Now I know that many people are horrified by "creepie-crawlies" like spiders, centipedes, millipedes, woodlice etc which are not obviously either beneficial or beautiful, but the fact is that they are all part of Nature's food chain. For instance, although all of us gardeners detest aphids (greenfly, blackfly etc), the unfortunate fact is that they are the staple food of ladybirds, so if there are no aphids around then the ladybirds move on (or die off).

As a little gesture towards insect sustainability I have for the past two years maintained a small logpile in a corner of my garden which would otherwise be useless since it gets practically no light or rainfall:

The idea is that these slowly decaying logs and branches will provide a refuge for many tiny bugs which will provide the prey for larger bugs, which in turn will provide sustenance for the really big bugs.... etc. As the saying goes: "Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em, and little fleas have lesser fleas, and so on, ad infinitum."

Establishing a log-pile like mine is something that everyone who owns a garden or plot can do with minimal effort and no expenditure of money, since it uses scrap wood that would otherwise be thrown away or burned. And the best thing is that it is totally "scaleable". My garden is small, so I have small log-pile, but if you have a huge garden then you can afford to have a huge log-pile.

As well as a log-pile maybe you could make an "insect hotel" out of plant stems and suchlike. The stems of some plants are hollow, and when they die down and dry out in the Autumn they provide good nesting and  places for lots of different types of insect. The best thing to do is to cut some stems into short sections and tie them up with string to make little bundles, and then push them into the twiggiest part of a bush or hedge - or maybe even tie them to a fence-post. Or you could make something much more ambitious out of pallets or scrap timber, like this wonderful construction seen recently on Pinterest:

Insect hotel - via Pinterest

If you need further inspiration, have a look at these other brilliant resources:-



I think I know now what to do with the pallet on which my Woodblocx raised bed kit recently arrived...

If you're not into building insect hotels, another wildlife-friendly thing to do is to sow seeds that will produce flowers attractive to bees. My blogging friend Jo wrote about this the other day, proving to us all that if you shop around wisely you can get a large number of suitable flowers for not much money. And a wildflower meadow would be so much nicer than just a patch of long grass, wouldn't it?

These things are not difficult to do, Folks, so please get out there and do your bit!


  1. I love that layered one... very 5 star!... yours in more 'boutique hotel'... I love it and have a few piles dotted about the garden.

  2. I used to have a lot of natural area at my last house, but here space is at a premium. But I do plant flowers to attract the bees, wasps, hoverflies, lacewings and such. I let the dill and cilantro bloom. I don't cut off the oregano flowers when they get messy as the bees are still working them.

  3. We've had a log pile under a bush on the plot and some logs cut from an old tree trunk hiding amongst our shrubs in the garden both of which have been in place for quite a few years. I've often wondered what may be living in amongst them but don't want to disturb anything to find out.

  4. My old asparagus patch is to be turned into a wildlife meadow next year. In reality it is a 12 ft long strip approx 2ft wide. It all helps though.

  5. What a great idea. So i dont need to clean up the junk piles in my yard -they're insect hotels! :)

  6. Good information here Mark. A true reflection of the lack of beneficial insects this year. My log pile (created a month or so ago) is on top of a small manure pile,for some warmth, with a small roof over the top to keep the inevitable rain off.

  7. We have no shortage of bugs here but I am so glad you all have recognized a shortage in your area and are trying to do something about it. We live in the woods so it is easier for us but it is still hard to not clean up everything. Right now we have 3 logs down in the side yard that fell during various storms. They are down for a reason. For one, we don't have a chainsaw but I like them there because there actually are lots of animals that rely on dead wood. I still can't get Phil to understand that the back yard is better off if the leaves are left in it (it has no topsoil just clay) but we'll take "baby steps", lol.

  8. Thanks for the link, Mark. I have a tiny pond in my garden whcih attracts lots of insects and wildlife, it's only tiny, but any amount of water attracts wildlife. Around the pond I have pieces of wood which is rotting down, somewhere for all the bugs to take refuge.

  9. I'm with both Veggiegobbler and Becky - I have no paucity of insects here, but like the idea that if I don't tidy up I'm "doing it for the insects!"

  10. Wow! That's a great idea! I'll do that next year.


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