How to build a bug mansion
An average garden could hold over 2,000 different species of insect! Very few of these creatures cause significant damage to our prized plants, and there are many more insects that actually help us control these pests! By providing the right habitats we can greatly increase the number of beneficial insects in the garden.
You will need:
- Wooden pallets
- Dead wood
- Stones and tiles
Where to build it:
Some invertebrates like cool damp conditions while others prefer the sun. To cater for as many of them as possible, site the mansion where some of it will catch the sun but with the rest of it in shade - say partially under a tree or near a hedge. Choose a level, even surface: the mansion may end up fairly heavy, so it will need a firm base.
How to build your bug mansion:
The basic framework is made of wooden pallets. The more you can use recycled or reclaimed materials the better. The mansion does not need to be more than five pallets high. If you place the bottom pallet upside down, this should create larger openings at the ends, which can be also be used for a hedgehog house. Although the structure should be stable, you might want to secure each pallet to the one below.
Why not plant some nectar-rich flowers around your habitat providing food for butterflies and bees?
Filling the gaps:
- Dead wood. Dead wood is an increasingly rare habitat and is essential for the larvae of wood-boring beetles. It also supports many fungi, which help break down the woody material. Crevices under the bark hold centipedes and woodlice.
- Holes for solitary bees. Hollow stems, such as old bamboo canes, or holes drilled into blocks of wood, make good nest sites for solitary bees.
- Frog hole. Amphibians need a frost free place to spend the winter; this could be in the centre of our habitat with stone and tiles providing the cool damp conditions amphibians need.
- Straw and hay. These provide many opportunities for invertebrates to burrow in and find safe hibernation sites.
- Dry Leaves. More homes for a variety of invertebrates; this mimics the litter on the forest floor.
- Loose bark. Beetles, centipedes, spiders and woodlice all lurk beneath the decaying wood and bark.
- Roll up a piece of corrugated cardboard and put it in a waterproof cylinder to create a home for lacewings.
- Dry sticks or leaves are perfect for ladybirds to hibernate in.
- Nectar producing plants. Why not plant some nectar-rich flowers around your habitat providing essential food for butterflies, bees and many other flying insects?