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Thanks for the interest in the insect box. I wouldn't rate myself as an expert by any means! The box has only been up for a couple of weeks and there are zero insects moving in Tasmania so it will take a while for me to learn what works.
|Photo Kristi Ellingsen with permission.|
I did do quite a bit of homework before I started though (mainly from Flickr photos and comments, and from what I saw in Europe), and I tried to build it in a way that made sense from the local insects I have seen. We collected all the framing from our local Tip Shops. We were looking for crates, terracotta, ceramic vents and baskets. I liked the look of the terracotta pipes, so I bought these from a recycled building supply shop. This place also gave me lots of broken pots. The wood was all from prunings in our garden, and some old kindling that we had in a wood-heap. I think it must have cost about $10 tops. We also used some clay to make interesting shapes with holes, and just left it to air dry.
Initially I was planning to drill the holes before I packed the box, but later I decided to pack it all in as tightly as I could and drill the holes in situ. It required a good brushing off, as I coated everything in sawdust! I tried to match the size of some natural holes that I had been watching in our garden that native bees had moved in to. After those I just used a variety of drill diameters to increase my chances of success with different species.
I wanted a variety of micro-habitats, so I kept my eyes out for a while for interesting natural objects in the garden. There was a curl of bark in the woodpile, so I filled that with some of our mulching straw. The broken terracotta should be a good hiding place for skinks and critters that hide under stone. I was planning to get a few pinecones for effect and hidey-holes, but I forgot. I know that lots of our reed bees burrow into the pith of cut rose stems, so I packed the gaps between the logs with sticks that I've seen our local animals using. Lots of bugs live on the seeds of our Lamb's Ears, so they packed some holes, and I pruned out some Cineraria branches that I normally remove. Reed bees live in those too. The packing will rot more rapidly, so I'll refill these when necessary. Behind the air-vent I packed some scrunched up creeper just to provide a more airy hiding space. Hopefully the clay blocks will be crumbly enough for some insects to customise their burrows.
Lastly I thought carefully about the placement. Again I used our Reed bees as a guide. I placed it in a really sunny, warm spot that has a creeper ready to drape over it and "nestle it in". The reed bees nest in the plants in this section of the garden, and feed on the sages and daisies. I have planted up new sage plants in front of it, and a number of flowering natives around the box.
It's a long shot, but it can't hurt, and I really like the look of them.
The only other thing that I can think of is a warning to watch out for treated wood...I nearly ended up making the roof out of a treated fence post ......doh!
- Kristi Ellingsen
For more from Kristi’s photostream on Flickr, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/zosterops/5847745354/in/photostream/