It might not seem like much, but the green space outside your home is filled with wildlife — most of them so small you may not even spot them.

Insects are everywhere, but some of the most beneficials bugs aren’t always at home near humans. That’s why biodiversity — or variety of life in an environment — is so important.

Promoting biodiversity can help actually help control pests. For example, dragonflies eat mosquitos or flies. Other insects can help promote plant life — such as how pollinators can help flowers grow. And many insects, like fireflies and butterflies, are beautiful to watch.

To encourage beneficial bugs to move in and to keep them safe as they hunker down during the cold winter months, consider creating a bug hotel.

Here’s how to create a natural habitat for insects and increase the biodiversity in your own yard.

Step 1: Select a base

Your bug hotel will need a base or a frame such as a wooden box, an old dresser drawer or even a cookie tin. Six to eight inches deep is ideal.

Choose something that won’t decompose or fall apart when it gets wet and that will hold sticks, straw and other natural materials. (Ask your parents for help finding or building the right frame for your hotel.)

Step 2: Scavenge for interior supplies

Bugs love to snuggle into hiding places to find shelter. Look for natural items to fill your bug hotel and provide your insects with warmth, shelter and security.

These can include leaves, hay, clay pots, bundles of sticks, cardboard tubes, pinecones or wooden logs with drilled holes. Anything that will allow insects a cozy place to hide out will work.

Step 3: fill the hotel

Add the interior objects to your base and pack it tightly. You want just enough space for tiny creatures to squeeze in. Avoid large gaps which can invite bug parasites.

You can try to create a design by stacking similar items together, creating a pattern or just filling it however you think looks best. Your insect guests will like it either way.

Step 4: Place your bug hotel

Your bug home can go almost anywhere, but unless you want ants to take over, you should keep it elevated off the ground. Some ideas include on a tree, on a stake, on an outdoor wall or fence.

You should also make sure your hotel is partially shaded so it doesn’t get to too hot. Try to position the opening of the hotel away from strong winds to prevent it from falling apart.

If you want, you can write the name of your bug hotel on the frame. Just make sure that any paint you may use doesn’t get into the interior of the hotel as it could be harmful for your guest.

Step 5: Wait for guests

Check and see what insects move in by observing what creates come and go. If you want, you can create your own “guest book” by writing down what creatures you see check in.

For more ideas, you can search the internet for bug hotel DIY projects or visit http://wdt.me/bughotel.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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