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BugVille

What do you do if you rescue some wood from the garden of a terraced house?

Well, for us there was only one thing to do – build a little village of terraced bug houses.

The lengths of triangle timber that we’d picked up during a visit to my daughter’s new home were perfect for insect roofs. And with the help of the mitre saw, they were soon waiting to be fitted to their new homes (complete with chimneys made of twigs).

As well as the triangle lengths, we’d also rescued some old scaffolding planks that we cut down to various sizes to create the walls of the terraced bug houses.

We screwed these to the roofs and cut another plank to size to create the base for the houses to stand on.

Then it was just a case of adding the backs and a couple of small pieces of wood to separate the floors. We then filled the bug houses with bamboo, twigs and pine cones creating plenty of nooks and crannies for bees, ladybirds and any other bugs that would like to make these lovely little houses their home.

We loved the first design so much, we decided to create a little village of terraced bug houses – we’d love to hear what you think of them.

 

If you’d like to see our bug houses in the flesh why not come and say hello at one of the craft fairs we’ll be at over the next few months.

Click here to find out where we’ll be – we’d love to see you.

What do bugs do for my garden?

Insects play such an important part in keeping our gardens healthy.

Since we started making bug houses, one of the most common questions we get asked is: “Why do I want bugs in my garden?” Well, many bugs help our plants to grow by pollinating them, these beneficial insects keep the soil healthy and they naturally control garden pests that feed on our favourite plants.

Whether it’s bees and butterflies pollinating our flowers, fruit and vegetables or ladybirds and lacewings keeping the aphid population under control, beneficial bugs are crucial to keeping your garden healthy.

Beneficial insects help to pollinate your plants and control garden pests naturally
Beneficial insects like bees and ladybirds are really good for your garden.

But which insects are the good ones? you can see from the great infographic below that bees, ladybirds, spiders, lacewings. earwigs, ground beetles and ants are ‘helpful’ bugs and should be encouraged into our gardens.

Insects That Benefit The Garden
Source: Fix.com Blog

How can I attract more bugs into my garden?

Now you know how good bugs are for your garden you’re probably wondering how to attract more of them.

Many gardens now are so well kept that beneficial insects are finding harder to find natural spaces to rest, nest and shelter. A few simple changes can really help them.

Make a log pile to attract beetles and ladybirds and create pond to lure dragonflies, water beetles and pond skates. Piles of rocks or upside down flower pots make great homes for ground beetle, centipedes and spiders and if you grow a wide variety of flowers you’ll have a really good chance of attracting bees, butterflies, lacewings and hover flies.

If possible, leave an area of your garden to grow ‘wild’. This will encourage bugs (and other wildlife) to visit your garden.

Attract more beneficial bugs to your garden by creating a pond, making a log pile, growing flowers and letting an area grow wild to give year round shelter.
Attract insects by growing flowers, creating a pond or letting an area of your garden grow wild.

As you can see, it’s good to encourage beneficial insects to make your garden their home. If you’re still in two minds, take a look here to find out why you should have a bug house.

 

 

 

Why should I have a bug house?

Now that you’ve read little about what ‘good’ bugs do for your garden you could be thinking about getting outside and helping them to thrive…maybe you’re even thinking about getting yourself a bug house.

But why have an insect house?

Well, for a start your garden will love you for it. By giving insects like solitary bees, ladybirds, lacewings and butterflies somewhere to rest, nest and shelter you’ll be getting natural pest management and pollinators galore.

Aphids are the gardeners enemy and love to munch on your beloved plants. Encouraging beneficial bugs like ladybirds and lacewings into your garden will help to keep them under control – naturally.

Wildlife friendly garden

Bugs are key to creating a wildlife-friendly garden. The more bugs you have, the more insect loving wildlife you’ll attract too. You could see and increase in hedgehogs, bats and birds like blackbirds, robins, blue tits and wrens  – and add a little water and you could soon see frogs and toads hopping around too.

 

Bug houses give beneficial insects like bees and ladybirds somewhere to rest, nest and shelter.
Insect houses give beneficial bugs somewhere to rest and lay their eggs.

But where do I put my bug box?

Warm and sheltered spots are generally thought to be the best places to hang your insect house. Attach it to a tree or fence post that faces the morning the sun and make sure that rain can’t pour into the bug house.

There’s no exact science (and no guarantee that your bug house will be full of inhabitants within hours of  putting it up) so the best thing to do is to check it after a couple of weeks. If there’s no sign of any beneficial bugs, take a look around and find another warm and sheltered spot to try.

Hang you insect house in a warm and sheltered spot to give beneficial bugs like ladybirds and lacewings somewhere to rest, nest and shelter.
A south facing, sheltered spot is thought to be the best spot for your bug house.

 

If you’ve decided that now is the time to give the beneficial bugs in your garden a brand new home, why not come and see us at one of the craft fairs we’ll be at over the next few months.

We’ve been busy

People keep asking: ” Why bug houses?”

After I built the bug ‘hotel’ I started noticing bee and bug houses in DIY stores and garden centres. The problem I found with them is that they are really quite small, obviously mass produced, pretty sterile looking with very little character (no self-respecting insect would want to be seen in them) …and pretty expensive too!  So I decided to make my own.

I’ve always liked the idea of working with wood so with my t’rusty hand saw, a 10 year old drill, a small electric sander, a few screws and a lot of imagination I set to work to see if I could make something better.

 

I was pretty happy with my first attempt…created from a pallet, with the edge of an old dining table making the perfect roof.

 

 

Next I had a go at transforming an old pub bench that I’d ‘rescued’ from a skip (with permission from the pub)…that went pretty well too. So I made a small insect house out of a scrap piece of wood I found behind the trees, then I filled a couple of small metal watering cans that had been in the shed for ages with bamboo and a pine cone. There’s something really satisfying about making stuff out of materials that you’ve ‘rescued’ from the scrap heap.

 

 

We started sharing our creations on social media and the reaction was brilliant. Everyone who we spoke to loved them…and people even wanted to buy them. So we started making more.

As our bug houses have become more popular we’ve been sourcing wood from anywhere we can get our hands on it. It’s surprising how much scrap wood there is out there when you start looking – and most of it is really good quality too.

 

 

And with the increase in demand we’ve even upgraded the saw…

 

 

We went to our first craft market over Easter and the reaction was really positive…so we’ve signed up for another two.

 

We’re planning to be selling our handmade bug houses at a few craft fairs over the summer – find out where we’ll be by clicking here.

See you soon hopefully.

Time on our hands

For as long as I can remember our lives have been dominated by the responsibility of having children. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – I’m just saying how busy it’s been  – school runs and cooking meals for four children, trawling through piles of washing and ironing every weekend takes its toll and leaves very little time to indulge in some of the more enjoyable things in life.

Our eldest is 23 now, with the middle two being 17 and 16 and our youngest is a very independent 12 year-old meaning that we’ve found ourselves with a lot more time on our hands lately…which is why I’ve found a love for garden wildlife.

We live in an urban area in the West Midlands and our tennis court sized garden is bordered on one side by a high wall that separates us from a road and busy walkway – (handily, the pub is just 30 seconds away) but it’s amazing the amount of wildlife you can attract if you create the right environment.

Birds

I’ve been feeding the birds in our garden for quite a while now and started doing the Big Garden Birdwatch a couple of years ago but it’s only recently that I’ve really started taking a real interest in what’s going on right outside my back door.

We have a couple of bird boxes, this battered old one attracts blue tits every year, and some other regulars to our garden are a family of black birds (possibly my favourite bird), countless busy sparrows that dart from the hedges to the feeders and quickly back again, a couple of inquisitive robins, a few comical pigeons and a mix of intelligent jackdaws, carrion crows, rooks and magpies.

Frogs

Last summer I built a small pond and we had a resident frog – with a few smaller ones making an appearance later in the year.

 

There’s no sign of any frog spawn this year but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the pond becomes a breeding spot…I’ll keep you posted on this.

Hotel

This year, after creating an account on the RSPB site and being given a plan to follow I decided to take my interest in the nature in our back garden one step further. First job was to create a bug hotel and hedgehog café. I was determined to use the things that were just lying around in our garden to build these homes for nature.

Luckily (although my wife might disagree) I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to wood – you never know when you might want to build something. I went hunting around the garden and found a couple of pieces of old trellis and some slats from a bed that we recently upgraded – I’d found my structure and went off in search of things to fill it with. I found some bamboo cane, a few pine cones, some rotten wood and a load of twigs.

 

 

I initially intended for the bug house to be fairly small but once I’d got my materials together it just made sense to build one as large as possible. I screwed the frame together and added all the bits that I’d found lying round the garden…making sure that I left enough space underneath to add a few rocks for frogs to use for hibernation, with a separate area at the front of the ‘hotel’ to use as a hedgehog café.

It was the first time that I’d spent any real time in the garden since winter began…it was freezing cold but it felt so good to be outside again. The bug hotel/hedgehog café/frog retreat sits at the back of the garden, under the shelter of the trees and serves as an excellent vantage point for the couple of nosey robins that love watching in the mornings as I put out the seeds and fat balls before I head off to work.

It’s early days yet, and there’s no sign of any hedgehogs, frogs or bugs taking advantage of the facilities but I’ll keep you updated…as they say, build it and they will come.