A Critters Condo

It’s that time of year when our homes become a hubbub of activity with many of our smallest citizens making their way across our thresholds.

Male house spiders – seemingly larger every year- prowl the hallway in search of an eight-legged lady companion; earwigs tuck their ‘lug-shaped’ wings away and settle down under the sofa; Peacock butterflies opt for a winter staycation in the attic and lacewings and ladybirds make their tour of the window frames, choosing only the finest of king size beds for their hibernation huddles. 

But don’t let this co-habitation give you the creeps, whether arachnid or arthropod, we are indebted to our native invertebrates.   Tiny of stature but mighty in impact, insects have significant economic, social and cultural value; contributing to food production, pest control, and healthy soils.  But despite their invaluable contribution to pollination and ecosystem services, their future is far from secure.  

Tragically, we are amidst a crisis of insect decline with species abundance dropping like….. well, like flies.  Let’s keep positive, we have still a diverse array of invertebrate species holding on and while these species remain (albeit many in a threatened and vulnerable state) we must believe there is hope of their recovery and a safeguarded future for them here with us in the UK.  But this does require urgent action and all of us can play our part.  An insect-rich future demands a significant reduction, or indeed a complete halt, in the use of harmful pesticides.  Creating better and more connected insect habitat in our gardens, urban greenspaces and countryside is essential to ensuring a wildlife-rich UK and a better future for people. 

No doubt action to save insects is required on a national scale, with ambitious and bold changes. But smaller, local actions are equally important in preventing further loss and, at times, challenging public perceptions of insects. So our Heart of Durham Volunteers were more than happy when Northumbrian Water requested their assistance to create an aesthetically pleasing home for insects within the sewage treatment works at Barnard Castle.  

 

The new-build is situated in a sunny corner of the site sheltered from prevailing wind and rain. Its waterproof roof will provide extra shelter from inclement weather but will also prevent buildup of mold and disease.  Logs drilled with a variety of holes – some as small as 3mm diameter – provide accommodation for a wide range of burrowing beetles, bugs and bees. Broken clay pots and slates offer basking surfaces for sun-loving, spineless residents. The basement suit has a rustic design with two small entrances surrounded by timber and filled with luxurious dried leaves and straw – a tempting winter hideaway for hedgehogs. 

With so much choice of accommodation on offer in the bug hotel, it’s a wonder if any insects will head for our central heated, human -filled houses.  And if they do, why not let them find their own quiet corner and see out the colder months in their humble company. 

 

new bug hotel front view

Bug hotel construction complete

Take action for insects