A New Trend – Insect Condo

It’s Still Just Dirt, The Tillsonburg News – July 2017
by Angela Lassam

Now that all the garden has been planted we have to sit and wait to reap the benefits. Most gardeners are not idle people so they look for other projects in the garden. There is a great way to tidy up that corner of waste which contains all kinds of what may seem like trash. It is to build a habitat for all kinds of insects ready for the winter. These structures can be called by various names – bug hotel, bee wall, wildlife stacks and insect hotel. I am sure there are many others and children have a good imagination. This could be a summer pastime for children to do and name it. You can buy a bee structure at most nurseries but it can be more beneficial and environmentally friendly to upcycle your scrap.

Any materials can serve a purpose in your design. Skids piled flat make a good foundation, or any type of wood or steel frame, and the materials you can use are endless. Here are just some you may have piled in your ‘corner’ – blocks, bricks, tree limbs, twigs, broken clay pots and pipes. Straw, pinecones, bent tin, wire mesh and old wooden shutters. They can all serve a purpose. They can be artistically placed and all can in some way house your insect community.

Wasps, dragonflies, beetles, lacewings, moths, spiders, ladybugs and bees will use the various materials that you put in your design.

Wasps are pollinators especially early in the season when they will pollinate raspberries.

Bumblebees are superb pollinators of tomatoes, blueberries and much more. Mason bees are one of the earlier pollinators for fruit. They prefer a separate home from other insects. This can be made of any pieces of wood either cut branches or leftover building lumber. You will need to drill various size holes for them to live in.

Ladybugs are capable of consuming up to 50 to 60 aphids per day but will also eat a variety of other insects and larvae including mealy bugs, leaf hoppers, mites, and various types of soft bodied insects so they are very beneficial. They like to hibernate in dry twigs and leaves

A final safeguard for your winter habitat is a piece of wire mesh to keep the birds out.

A good source for ideas can be found on www.flickr.com and search for insect hotel. There you will find many photos of structures that have been built in many different countries. Whatever you do just have fun and create a whimsical addition to your garden.

The recent garden tour ‘Beyond the Garden Gate’ was enjoyed by all. Many thanks to those who opened their gardens to visitors and to the other locations in town on the tour. Thank you to all those who participated and made it a great success.

There is another summer event on Tuesday, August 8 starting at 5:00 p.m. at Whistling Gardens, Wilsonville – a unique and very interesting venue. There will be a barbecue, entertainment by the Gentleman of Harmony from Simcoe plus a 150th Anniversary cake. So come and join in, take a stroll round the beautiful gardens and lake and relax. Also it is the 35th Anniversary of the Tillsonburg Horticultural Society. Cost is $30 (including admission to the Gardens). For more information contact Barb Hunter @ barb.hunter@live.com. This is open to everyone.

Regular monthly meetings resume Tuesday Sept 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Seniors Centre Auditorium, Tillsonburg Community Complex. Everyone welcome. To keep up to date look at the website www.tillsonburghorticultural.ca or join us on Facebook – Tillsonburghorticultural.