A do-it-yourself insect hotel

Insect hotel at the Insectarium
Credit: Espace pour la vie (Sonya Charest)
Insect hotel at the Insectarium
  • Insect hotel at the Insectarium
  • Insect hotel at the Insectarium
A do-it-yourself insect hotel

In any type of garden – flower, vegetable – insects our are allies. Honeybees, bumblebees and butterflies perform pollination, while predators, which include ladybugs, regulate the populations of destructive insects like aphids. The <a href="">insect hotel</a> makes it possible to play host at home to these tireless workers by supplying them with shelters and laying sites. It’s an entertaining project to carry out as a family, in three easy stages:

1. Build an insect hotel

Your hotel can take on a great variety of shapes and dimensions. Show some creativity! Every insect hotel is unique. But for the best possible results, certain criteria have to be respected.

To start with, select chemically untreated wood so as not to harm the insects who decide to settle in your hotel. Ideally, opt for a wood that resists weathering (hemlock, oak). If you can’t, it’s still possible to equip your hotel with a roof that will protect the structure from precipitation. Also, be sure to set up your creation some distance from the ground to protect it from humidity. One idea: the insect hotel can be installed fairly high up, like a birdhouse – in a tree, for example.

2. Choose the site

The importance of finding the right setting for the insect hotel mustn’t be neglected. Pick a spot where it will be protected from the prevailing winds, say close to a hedge. You also have to make sure that the insect hotel faces the sun, so that it benefits from the warmth of its rays as long as possible during the day. Finally, think about having a “pantry” nearby, meaning wild or cultivated flowers that will be a source of food.

3. Laying out the rooms

The principle is to create a different microenvironment in each compartment so as to welcome the broadest diversity of insects. Furnish each room with whatever you find: twigs, dead leaves, pinecones, flat stones, pieces of bark, and so on. All these materials are prone to shelter insects looking for a hideout or somewhere to pass the winter. For pollinators, hollow stems or dead wood previously bored will attract bees and solitary wasps, who will come lay their eggs there.

The insect hotel is now open!

Nothing else to do now but wait for some little beasties to settle in at your place. Make them all welcome in your hotel, except maybe the social wasps, who might drive the other insects away. Keep an eye out and be patient: some nice surprises are in store!

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