Insect houses and shelters

Insect houses and shelters

The presence of insects in the ecosystem is more important than we can perceive as these living beings perform a series of fundamental and irreplaceable functions for the balance of nature.
Unfortunately, modern agricultural production techniques, environmental pollution, and other phenomena, largely linked to human activities, are generating a series of imbalances in these populations, with a considerable decline on a planetary level.
But in our small way, we can help insects find more suitable conditions for their lives, their shelters, and their reproduction.
In addition to avoiding, of course, the use of insecticides, herbicides, or other toxic synthetic substances, we can build real shelters that will enable various kinds of insects to find refuge, to spend the winter, to reproduce, etc.
These are real houses built with certain criteria that can be purchased online or built directly in the garden, terrace, or open field.
So from pollinators to parasite predators, we can create shelters to house them. Let us immediately clarify that, despite what is read in most of the texts, including those of technical depth, there are no useful insects and harmful insects: they all contribute to a delicate balance which, if challenged by external factors, such as some human activities, it can generate the proliferation of some insects at the expense of others or considerable infestations. In this case, it is the ecosystem that tends to restore something that has been tampered with by external factors.
So when we build an insect shelter, we need not only think of ladybirds or pollinators, but any kind of insect. That is why the “houses” of insects are characterized by different shelter solutions.
In this way a system of biocenosis is established in which the ecosystem balances itself and the insects each play its role without prevailing over the others: in this way the ladybugs, for example, will be able to keep other insects at bay such as aphids and these , in the correct proportions play their ecological role.

Construction of the refuge –
In order to make this manufactured article you will need a few simple materials.
First of all you need to get a wooden box: possibly in raw wood, so as not to damage your guests. An example can be the box that contains the bottles of wine. This box is clean, using sandpaper, in order to remove any traces of paint or chemical agent that would harm the insects.
In case you are unable to find a box already built you can make it using wooden boards and assembled using nails and hot glue. It is important not to paint this product with conventional paints but with non-toxic products and water-based paints. It should also not be mounted on metal surfaces.
After making the box, more or less large according to your objectives, measure the depth of the box and cut some bamboo canes of the same size so that you can insert them inside.
The reeds must be placed next to each other so that, from the outside, insects can easily enter through the hollow part. The pieces of cane are glued next to each other with hot glue, filling up to about half or 2/3 of the height of the house.
Now make a lid for this box by drawing the shape of a door with a pencil, to be applied on the space not filled with the reeds: the lid can be cut with a hacksaw, then puncture it regularly, with holes of different sizes and horizontal slits and vertical, in order to attract different species of beneficial insects. Secure the door with a zipper to open it and fill the space with sticks and straw.
Clearly the shelter solutions and dimensions can be more varied as in the case of the photo.
This box can be fixed on a perimeter wall, possibly around 1.50 meters high, preferably sheltered from the rain. The placement can also occur in a tree.
In any case, it must be ensured that the sun does not shine in the area where the box is positioned except for brief moments.
The insect house must, of course, be securely fixed to the wall or tree or even to a specially built pole well fixed in the ground. Fastening must be done either with pressure anchors if the shelter is to be positioned on a wall or with additional fastening boards, nails, straps and tie rods in case of attachment to a tree, to avoid damaging the tree branches.
Obviously this box must have various types of vegetation around it which represents a “pasture” for the various types of insects to carry out their activities.
Another tip is to expose the house-refuge to the southern quadrants, either to the south, to the south-east or south-west. If after a year the insects have not settled in the home you have prepared, change the exposure and location. In addition, to facilitate the entrance of insects, place the shelter house at the end of winter: you can then leave it all year round.

Creation of the Garden-Pasture –
Once this refuge has been built, it is clear that we must think about the ecosystem in which the insects will find nourishment and attraction.
Obviously, any type of insecticide, herbicide or synthetic substance that is possibly not allowed in organic farming must be banned in your garden or farm.
To attract insects, especially ladybugs or pollinators (bees, hoverflies, etc.) you can sow plants that produce colorful flowers: such as marigolds, potentille, dandelions, geraniums, cornflowers, etc. but also fragrant vegetables such as horseradish, cauliflower, broccoli, wild fennel, etc.
Remember that, for example, carrots, fennel and alyssus provide the nectar necessary to feed many insects such as hoverflies (which, like bees, are excellent pollinators and feed on aphids).
It is also important to include aromatic plants that help to balance the relationships and biocenoses between insects, for example by attracting beneficial insects or removing parasites: purely by way of example, nettle is useful against aphids, while garlic is a natural pesticide, sage, particularly attracts bees and so on.
In this regard, however, it is advisable to increase the biodiversity of your garden / company by introducing the highest number of plants that also bloom and ripen in the rows, at the edges of the fields, in the flower beds. This is the best environment for insects.
Finally, if you cannot build these shelters in an artisanal way you can also find them online like the one suggested below.

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