Install an insect hotel in your garden to provide a sheltered spot for wildlife to take cover for the cold winter months. Gardens are increasingly important habitats for wildlife, but fulfilling their potential depends on gardeners doing their bit to make their garden more welcoming. Here are just a few ways you can help the little creatures that depend on you for somewhere to live:
- leave dead material from herbaceous perennials to provide shelter from the worst of the weather: insects particularly love hollow-stemmed shrubs such as elder and buddleia.
- create log piles for creatures such as beetles, lacewings, solitary bees, spiders, woodlice and many other garden creatures.
- small holes in the mortar between bricks are useful for various insects including solitary bees, so as long as there’s no structural risk, don’t be too quick to fill crumbling walls.
- leave dry sunny banks or warm patches of earth bare in a lawn or border for solitary bees and wasps to burrow into.
Insect hotels provide ideal winter homes: drop in to the garden centre here in London and you’ll find all kinds of shelters from solitary bee hotels to ladybird towers.
It’s important to pick the perfect spot for your bug hotel to make sure you get plenty of visitors from the start. Set your hotel up in a sheltered area of the garden, away from the prevailing wind. Most insects, as well as beetles, frogs and toads, like slightly damp conditions; but solitary bees need your sunniest spot to help them warm up on cold days.
Try to locate your bug hotel close to an existing insect hotspot such as a hedge, a patch of nectar-rich flowers, or a pond. Before you know it your hotel will be fully occupied, a true haven for the tiny creatures who need it most.