wildlife hotelNow is a good time to think about providing overwintering habitats for wildlife. It’s always good to have natural sources of shelter for insects in the garden, but not always possible, especially if we like our gardens tidy. A wildlife hotel can substitute for natural habitat, and enhance natural habitat that might be there – it also looks rather intriguing and aesthetically pleasing, so can be incorporated into the best of garden designs.

The idea of a wildlife hotel is to provide hibernation sites and shelter for lacewings, ladybirds, spiders, solitary bees and wasps, woodlice, beetles, centipedes, newts, small mammals and invertebrates.

The following is a suggestion of how to make a wildlife hotel, but your hotel can be unique, using resources you have available. Start with a layer of bricks arranged on bare ground with crevices between them for newts and other creatures who like cool dark places. Next put a layer of pallets stuffed with straw – this is particularly for small mammals and invertebrates to hibernate in. use logs and bricks in the next layer to allow spiders and woodlice to find dark, dry places to shelter. If you drill holes in the ends of some of the logs, this should provide nesting sites for solitary bees. Drill holes of different sizes, to attract a wider range of wildlife. The next layer could be another pallet packed with sheets of corrugated cardboard to encourage lacewings. Then you could have a layer of roof tiles packed with stones to create a dry stone wall type of habitat. Build up several layers like this using what resources you have, including bamboo canes and sticks.

Place the wildlife hotel in a sheltered part of your garden to give wildlife a good chance of seeing through the winter.

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