During the weeks before Christmas, staff at FSC Millport were working hard to create a bug hotel, aptly named Bugingham Palace. This was just in time for the winter, so that bugs had a place to stay nice and warm. Bug hotels are amazing tools for increasing the biodiversity of an area, attracting loads of different species of insects, such as bumblebees, solitary bees, woodlice and ladybirds, that will take refuge within it. They are also often used by insects as nesting sites, providing an environment for offspring to be reared.
So why do we care about insects at all and why do we want to attract them to our site? The first incredibly important role insects fill is that of pollinators, pollinating many of our crops as well as many other plants. While pollination is maybe their most well-known role they also provide many others. One of these is as primary and secondary composers. They help break down and dispose of wastes, dead animals and plants, and so without them these would possibly accumulate in the environment. By doing this insects can create much more fertile soils, improving their condition so that other living things can rely on the soil to live on much more easily. Insects are also a major part of the food web, providing a source of food for many species of reptiles, birds, mammals and amphibians. Bugingham Palace will not only increase the biodiversity of insects at our site but will also have a knock on effect, increasing the biodiversity within these other groups.
Our bug hotel will not only provide a home for the bugs, but will also provide for small garden birds around the site. Bird feeders containing fat balls and seeds are hung from the side and gaps in the roof provide a perfect space for little birds like Wrens to keep warm during the winter. The roof is also a perfect space for nesting birds in the spring, and with a constant food supply from both the feeders and the insects themselves we will hopefully get some nesting there come next spring.