Nature Alert: Riderwood features hotels not just for humans

By Tom Adkins
Riderwood Resident

In addition to nearly 50 birdhouses, Riderwood has hotels for insects. In memory of Anne Blackburn, renowned Riderwood naturalist who recently died, the Grounds Department donated three insect hotels to the Riderwood Gardens complex.

“Hotels for insects, you’ve gotta be kidding me!” you say.  Well, here is a little bit about them:

InsectHotelDiagram

It is not certain just how effective these “Insect Hotels” are.  The sections of bamboo and dowels at the top, with holes of 5 to 10 mm (0.2 to 0.4 inch) that are tilted slightly to prevent rain from coming in, are egg-laying sites for solitary bees and wasps.  These are effective for adding pollinators and “insectivores” (insects that devour other insects) to the garden.

The butterfly and lacewing hideaways, as well as the “other insect” holes, are said to work.  The wood chips for hibernating ladybugs might be possible in concept but may not provide sufficient warmth to over-winter.  We’ll see what happens over the next year.

There are many things you can do at no or low cost to provide shelter for various insects.  Search on the internet for “Insect Hotels,” skip past the ads for prefabricated ones for sale, and you will get a lot of ideas.

Try out one in your home today!

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