The UK construction industry may have hit the buffers post credit-crunch, but we're ploughing ahead unperturbed with our own des-res developments for beneficial insects. No planning permission needed, and no loans from the 'trustworthy' world of banking and finance. Just a spare piece of skirting board, an old port wine box, and a few pieces from our extensive collection of old slate tiles. We're confident that the Rockingham Forest Cider recycling targets have been met for another month.
Following the aphid problems we've had in the orchard this year, and particularly the Rosy Apple Aphid which has set the growth back on one of the Harry Masters' Jersey trees by a good year, the need to encourage additional beneficial insects into the orchard has become apparent. Lacewing and Ladybird larvae, Spiders and Earwigs are all good insects to have amongst our trees. Lacewing in particular love Rosy Apple Aphid, and it was with these in mind that I've constructed several overwintering refuges to be distributed throughout the orchard.
The idea of these little bug homes is to provide a safe shelter for insects, many of which would otherwise perish during the cold Winter months. This way, when the aphids make their appearance in the orchard in the early Summer there should already be a strong population of predators in-situ and ready to do battle on our behalf.
There are plenty of these bug homes available to buy off-the-peg, and they're relatively inexpensive, but it's always nice to build something yourself, particularly if it uses up materials otherwise cluttering the place up. The commercial versions usually have a louvered front, whereas ours are simply stuffed with corrugated cardboard underneath. It will be interesting to see what, if any, 'first time buyers' move into our new-build bug houses this coming Winter. Hard working residents we hope.