Why You and Your Garden Need an Insect Hotel
“To the extent that we value a diverse food supply with minimized trauma to the environments where it is produced, we will place a high value indeed on honey bees and other pollinators.” Keith S. Delaplane, Professor of Entomology, University of Georgia.
Entomologists, gardeners, nature enthusiasts and anyone who has a passion for insects, knows about the many benefits of encouraging natural habitats and biodiversity in our gardens. Heavy landscaping is slowly making way for less manicured sanctuaries which welcome beneficial insects who pollinate plant life and prey on pests, helping to yield healthier, more prolific crops of fruit and vegetables.
Due to the urbanisation of green spaces, pollution and pesticides, there has been a sharp decline of insect populations across the globe, particularly bee species, also known as CCD, or Colony Collapse Disorder. Experts say that more than half of the world’s flowering plants and 35% of food crops rely on pollinating animals to reproduce, which means that much of the food we consume depends predominantly on bees, butterflies, moths, birds, bats and beetles. Many gardeners are using insect hotels and imaginative mini watering holes as a fantastic supplement to the natural habitats of our little invertebrate friends.
We are so excited to introduce our beautiful Gogga Hotel as a living education opportunity for you to enjoy with your children. ‘Gogga’, pronounced gutturally as in the expression ‘ugh’, is Afrikaans for insect or creepy crawly. Hosting insects in your own Gogga Hotel is not only fun and fashionable but also gives goggas a safe, dry place off the ground, (ants love to dine on bee larvae), where they can bed, lay their eggs and hibernate during winter. Ideally, your hotel should be in a sunny but sheltered spot, surrounded by flowering plants. The hollow reeds and bamboo are excellent nesting tubes for solitary bees, wasps and lacewings, who will seal up the cavities with mud or leaf litter and whose larvae feast on aphids and mites.
Bee experts in South Africa agree that the Asparagus Mazeppa plant, commonly known as the Emerald or Foxtail Fern, is a good companion for your Gogga Hotel as it is an easy-to-grow feathery perennial which produces honey-scented tiny white flowers in summer, followed by pretty red berries. It is perfect for hanging baskets and grows happily on patios and even indoors.
Helping to sustain and protect nature is easy to do with a few simple changes. Be sure to choose indigenous plants that produce nectar and pollen and avoid over-trimming bushes and hedges as some butterfly pupae attach to plants. Also keep an eye out for bee and wasp ground nests before you mow the lawn or mulch flowerbeds. Plant wild flowers around the perimeter of your garden and leave a log-pile in the corner for wood-boring beetles, centipedes, millipedes and wood lice which are a good source of food for garden spiders and birds.
Providing the right habitat for the many bugs that frequent our gardens encourages natural pest control, reducing the need for harmful pesticides and stimulating a thriving eco system. All of this adds to the variety of life on earth and is very rewarding for everyone!