Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bug boudoirs: symbolic or practical?

Insectarium at Hamburg Botanic Garden
 One of the many things that struck me on this past Spring's visit to Scandinavian and German botanic gardens was the ubiquity of these "bug hotels": designed to attract the widest spectrum of insects possible. Carpenter bees of course, but beetles, larvae of all kinds, nymphs and nymphets, a regular Enchanted Hunters, if you get my drift. I am in no position to judge the efficacy of these devices--although I admired their ingenuity and a certain rustic charm each possessed. I have a hunch they must perform some function, if only to strike a sort of lonely note of solidarity with the vast order of creatures who will one day supplant Civilization as we know it. Just as Bayer, Monsanto and Dupont do all they can to eliminate insects over vast tracts of the globe (thereby triggering genetic selection to make stronger, wiser and better pests), a few botanic gardens are saying through these structures "Hey, insects are cool. We need more and different kinds--not just honey bees"...I was so enchanted I just had to come back and show these to my colleagues at work--fortunately I took a stroll around Denver Botanic Gardens when I came home and noticed (see the third picture) that I'd been beaten to the punch. The last frame shows a very simple and elegant way one can incorporate these into your own garden--all you need is a few logs and an auger. Such things augur well indeed!

Insectarium at Frankfurt's Palmengarten

Insectarium at Denver Botanic Gardens
Insectarium at Peter Korn's Garden in Eskilsby, Sweden  



  1. I love this idea! I love the Denver Botanic Gardens display. Great photos!

  2. I look upon these much the same as folks planting some "bee friendly" perennials in their gardens. Unless planted in large numbers, those perennials are symbolic and don't provide a substantial quantity of nectar or pollen. However, they serve as a conscious reminder to the gardener and visitor that we must coexist with the diverse insect life in our world. So, build boudoirs and plant on!

  3. I've been noticing them too and was wondering the same thing. The Swedish logs seem to be well used, so maybe there is some merit to a few log piles and tube collections. I agree it does say to visitors "bugs welcome here"!

  4. You could make an insectarium, or you could just leave dead trees away from buildings and paths to decay. There is nothing better for wildlife in an oak woodland than a downed log from a centuries old tree. Dead trees should only be left if they are away from paths because you don't want a dead tree to fall on someone. Dead trees should only be left away from buildings because carpenter ants like dead wood. You don't want carpenter ants eating your house. Some nature centers have even placed large logs together on the ground to make a place where children can play. It challenges a person's balance, but the logs are not so high off the ground that they might be a dangerous. There is something artistic about an old moss covered log. I am surprised large logs almost never appear to be include as an architectural piece in gardens.



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