What is a bug hotel and how are they made?
Bug hotels are structures which are built of a variety of materials to provide habitat for a wide range of invertebrates and depending on its size also amphibians and small mammals. They can range from the size of a bird box to up to a meter high. Bug hotels are made by creating a frame with gaps and filling them with materials to create different habitats and lots of small places where invertebrates can hide. It is a good way of using up waste materials from gardening such as wood, dry leaves and terracotta pots. However, you can use almost anything but natural materials are preferred.
Why are invertebrates important?
It is estimated that there are 40,000 species of invertebrates in the UK alone with millions of species worldwide. There is a miniature world existing side by side with us in every habitat from land to sea and they are a very important part of the ecosystem and food chain. Pollinators such as bees, moths, wasps, beetles, flies and butterflies are central to a plant completing its reproductive cycle and without pollination 80% of plants in the UK would not be able to reproduce. This includes many of the plants which provide food for humans. Detritivores such as earthworms are vital for recycling waste material and keeping the soil healthy. All around us invertebrates are hard at work providing free services for humans. Without invertebrates, life would simply not exist on the planet. Unfortunately, there have been declines in the invertebrate species worldwide due to a long list of issues including loss/change of habitat, changing climate, pesticide use and intensive farming.
What can I do?
If you have access to outdoor space such as small garden, balcony or courtyard there are many ways you can help invertebrates. Planting nectar producing wildflowers for pollinators, reducing or stopping pesticide use, leavng deadwood piles and incorporating a bug hotel all contribute towards creating a friendly environmennt for invertebrates to live in. If you are a developer then it may also be an option to incorporate some habitat for invertebrates as a post-construction habitat enhancement and using up waste materials to build a bug hotel is an easy, low cost and low maintenance idea.
Will you be opening up your own bee & bee for your local invertebrates to stay the night?
More information about invertebrates and ways you can help them can be found at https://www.buglife.org.uk/ which is a charity working across the UK to help invertebrate conservation.