Material and Tool Guidelines
Below are two infographics showing examples of materials you may use and tools. However, you are free to choose anything beyond those lists, so long as the materials are safe. Please consult AUBotanic through the "Contact Us" link in the navigation bar if you have questions about the aforementioned guidelines and we will answer as soon as we can.
Please make sure your structure can be opened. We will be able to assess your structure fairly, and also monitor the ladybug population on campus!
But Before You Start…
Before you start looking up inspiring examples of ladybug hotel online, you must first think of heather ladybugs in their natural habitat; what do they eat, where do they hide, what do they look for when they want to lay their eggs, what do they do to protect themselves?
Heather ladybugs need to be warm and dry as they overwinter. They’re found commonly on citrus trees when its warm and conifers during the overwintering period. This is because conifers often have brittle bark that peels, which naturally creates small spaces in between old and new bark underneath that these ladybugs climb up in to stay insulated from the cold and immune to winter’s strong winds.
This natural refuge is what we could replicate. Not in the literal sense.
Below is an example of creating small spaces which ladybugs can climb up to.
Other examples include…
There are many ways in which you could go about building your structure. However, there are methods in which you need to look out for, and they will be stated bellow as guidelines on what to avoid in building your bug hotel.
Guidelines on What to Avoid:
1. Dedicating different compartments for different bugs:
We have seen many examples of this online, where insect hotels are divided into compartments, some filled with hay and straws, others filled with pine cones… etc.
A clear example of this.
Making compartments is totally fine, but dedicating them to different purposes could possibly affect your ladybugs negatively, as you could be allowing its natural predators and parasites to become its close door neighbors. If you’re building a ladybug hotel, build it using a single method and make sure you’re consistent. Below are habitats designed for bees which show consistency in their function, notice that the same method of housing was used and repeated.
Image by David Werner
image source: http://www.naturgartenfreude.de/wildbienen/nisthilfen/schautafeln
2. Making the outer walls too flimsy/weak; using weak material as dividers:
Imagine having the walls of your house so thin, your next door neighbor could easily punch through their wall and enter. Sure your neighbor might be too friendly to do that, but if their house gets invaded by thieves, then so will yours. This is exactly what parasites will do; once they find an uninhabited hole or compartment, the one right next to it will be unsafe. Your outer walls or compartments dividing your structure should be hard to infiltrate, a simple change of material will do.
3. Entrance holes and slits exceeding the size of the ladybug:
When you create an entrance slightly larger or slightly smaller than your ladybug, you’re increasing the chance of other insects moving in instead, and that means less chance that your ladybugs will benefit. Please keep in mind that the maximum width and height of a heather ladybug is 4 mm.