Learn to construct a ‘bug hotel’ on June 21

Beneficial insects can be attracted to a garden with a "bug hotel." Photo courtesy of Lou Osburn.

Beneficial insects can be attracted to a garden with a “bug hotel.” Photo courtesy of Lou Osburn.

Do you ascribe to “the only good bug is a dead bug” theory?

Lou Osburn wants to change your mind.

In fact, she hopes you’ll turn on the “Vacancy” sign by installing a bug hotel in your garden.

“All insects are good in many respects, but for our flower and vegetable gardens, some bugs are much better than others,” said Lou, a Northwest Louisiana Master Gardener. “The bug hotel is a British idea that is designed to attract these beneficial insects who live and work in the garden and give them a safe place to live! The beneficials seem to need a territory that provides not only good things to eat, but also a secure place to inhabit. We provide a benign structure, full of interesting odds and ends from the forest floor, or bark from a tree, or other garden trash, little holes for mason bees to nest, simply a small safe habitat in which to live.”

It’s really a simple way to get involved in Integrated Pest Management, which LSU AgCenter defines as “a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health and environmental risks.”

Attracting beneficial insects helps decrease the number of “bad bugs,” resulting in less need for chemical control.

Lou has enlisted the help of retired heavy equipment diesel mechanic Dale Stetson to create the hotels and they will present a demonstration at the June 21 Green Thumb event at the Gardens of the American Rose Center.

Dale, who describes himself as an “improvise, adapt and overcome kind of fellow,” said he had no idea what Lou was talking about at first. “She Googled some and showed me what a bug hotel looked like and I said I could make those. It was a curiosity.”

According to Lou, beneficial insects in our part of the world are lady beetles, praying mantids, minute pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs and parasitic wasps.

Dale recommends using all-natural materials to construct your bug hotel, which can be big or small, “from a Bug Hotel Hilton to a Bug Hotel Motel 6,” as he put it.

Among the materials he uses are pine straw, sweet gum balls, pine cones, sticks, bricks with holes in them and pieces of wood, like round posts with half-inch or smaller holes drilled into them. He scavenges old wooden fence slats tossed on the curb, uses a circular saw to cut them to length and a variable speed drill to fasten them together with deck screws that won’t rust.

“The hotel makes a whimsical addition to any garden, but the lesson it features is a true method of pest control,” Lou said.  “We will have a workshop where visitors can make their own bug house after the seminar part. Dale is furnishing all of the structures, and I the filling/stuffing. They will range in cost from $20 to $35.”

Dale says the fun part of creating a bug hotel – which can serve as yard art as well as a home for insects – is choosing the material to fill the hotel.

“It’s pretty self explanatory,” he said. “For me, creativity is no problem. For some people, creativity seems to be a problem. They’re locked into ideas that it has to be this way or that way and it makes them stumble in the creative part of their world. I create them in the way I think a bug would like them. It’s whatever you want to do. That’s the fulfillment of the thing.”

Green Thumb event details

  • Program: “Bugs, Bugs, Bugs! The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”
  • When:  9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 21.
  • Where: Klima Hall, Gardens of the American Rose Center, 8877 Jefferson Paige Road, Shreveport.

Schedule:

  • 9-9:15 a.m.:  Welcome and explanation of morning lecture and workshop activities.
  • 9:15-10:15 a.m.:  Where have all the butterflies gone? A study of organic insect pest control, including a demonstration of easily obtained organic products, illustrations of beneficial insects and information on how to attract and keep those useful insects in your garden.  Speaker: Lou Osburn, Certified Louisiana Master Gardener.
  • 10:15-10:30 a.m.:  Break for coffee and cookies.
  • 10:30-11 a.m.:  “Introduction to a Bug Hotel –How to Construct, Fill and Site a Hotel  in Your Garden.” Speaker: Dale Stetson, bug hotel structures builder, who will demonstrate a DYI bug hotel for your garden.
  • 11-noon: “Build Your Own Bug Hotel Workshop.” Stetson will bring empty houses for you to fill. All supplies included. There will small and medium hotels for sale.  Ready-made hotels will also be available.
  • Admission: free, but registration is requested.
  • Info: 318-938-5402.

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