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Insect hotels stay in the garden year-round. But it will take a full year for the bricks, plant stems, pine cones, holed logs to be completely inhabited.
A hotel is capable of welcoming a host of very different insects, from solitary bees to butterflies, including ladybugs, syrphids, gendarmes and beets. But everyone needs their own room. This explains the diversity of materials used to build these hotels. Materials to recover for the most part in the garden, and in particular, hollow stems and solid stems which will not accommodate the same critters.
What is a hollow stem and what insect will spend the winter there or lay eggs? The answers of Bernard Cwiek who manufactures insect hotels in Belgium:
« The hollow stems are bamboo for example. But you can also use Japanese knotweed stems (Fallopia japonica) which is an invasive plant. These stems are favored nesting places for wild bees. The longer the stem, the more eggs there will be, one behind the other.
In a 10 cm hollow rod, there are 7 to 8 bees which come to lay their eggs. It also happens that, in a large diameter rod, a spider comes to settle to take advantage of a hotel and a restaurant … «
Spiders are not crazy. By settling on insect hotels, they have no problem finding their food. Every year, dislodge them, because over time, the cobwebs thicken and form an impassable and dissuasive barrier for bees for example. Or for the syrphids which, themselves, lodge in full stems.
Bernard Cwiek’s explanations: « Solid stems are what are called marrow stems, like those of raspberries, butterfly trees, elderberries. These stems host the syrphid family, species of flies « disguised » as wasps. They can be easily recognized in adulthood, as they hover above plants. The syrphid is a small pollinator in the adult stage. Its larva eats aphids. And since he is not lazy, he digs his own hole in the rod. «
No matter the size of your insect hotel. It can be very small, and even installed in a planter. Anyway, even small, it will always be useful. Install it due east or south, or between these two points. It must be protected from prevailing winds and rains. Do not forget, whatever its size, to equip it with a waterproof roof. Slate, tile, wooden planks, anything is possible! The important thing is to keep it for a long time and that the insects feel well protected.
Thanks to Bernard Cwiek, craftsman, manufacturer of insect hotels (from mini to giant) in Ciplet, in Belgium. You can see his achievements on his website. His last idea: to combine art and insect hotel. These models called « Berluc » look like totems, and are perfect for smaller gardens.
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