Insect Friendly Gardens

I often hear people say that it is important to make green spaces “Insect Friendly”, but what is meant by this?

It is providing and encouraging a variety of different habitats that provide food and shelter for a range of different insects, and avoiding things that would do harm to insects, like using pesticides.

The focus is often on bees and butterflies, and their importance as pollinators. However, not only are other insects important pollinators, but insects have other vital roles in nature, including as food sources for many other animals and as recyclers of natural materials (dead plants, dead animals and poo).

Here are some ideas of positive things you can do to make a garden insect friendly:

Plant a range of trees, shrubs and plants that flower at different times of year

These will provide for insects all the year round. You can find some insect friendly planting guides on the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) website.

Create a dead wood habitat

Many insects, including a number of beetle species, like the cold damp conditions in a dead wood habitat and even eat the dead and decaying wood. Three ways to create one is set out by Gardener’s World.

Have a compost heap

As well being a means of recycling vegetable and garden waste, compost heaps also provide food and shelter for decomposers, many of which are insects. If you would like more information and advice about composting the RHS has an online guide.

Leave an area to grow wild

Areas of long grass are good for certain insects, e.g. for skipper butterflies to lay their eggs. Not mowing as often allows wildflowers, like daisy and buttercups to bloom. These, along with other plants often considered weeds, such as nettles, provide important food sources for insects.

Make an insect hotel

Insect hotels provide hiding places for insects to shelter. We have instructions for making a simple insect hotel on the museum website. If you want to find out more about making a more involved hotel, the RSPB have a guide on their website.

Have you made your garden more insect friendly using these, or any other methods? Tell us about what you have done in the comments below, or via the contact us page.

All photographs © Susie Glover. All rights reserved

Lily Beetle

Despite being viewed as a pest by many a gardener, for munching the leaves of their prized lilies, the lily beetle (Lilioceris Lilii) is a favourite insect of Andrew Salisbury, principal entomologist for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). In this short film Andrew tells us a bit about the lily beetle and why he finds it so fascinating.

Are there any insects that are often considered pests that you have a particular interest in? Let us know in the comments below or via our contact us page.

Dr Andrew Salisbury

Dr Andrew Salisbury tells us a bit about his work at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the world’s leading gardening charity. He also shares how he first became interested in insects, as a child.

He mentions a particular memory of an encounter with a Brown-tail moth caterpillar. Do you have any specific memories of insect encounters? Tell us about them in the comments below.