We’re finally seeing some glorious sunshine- finally- but as I put out my washing this morning, traipsing through a garden abandoned since winter, I’m surprised by the flock of little flies.
You’re probably aware by now that honey bees are struggling in the UK and are quickly on the decline with two species already extinct. This will have an impact on our flowers and fruit so it’s vitally important that we encourage pollinating insects, butterflies included, to come into our gardens to help preserve our way of life and the life of these important insects. But equally we don’t want unwelcome pests to irritate and somewhat frighten us when we’re outside. So to help in conservation but discourage unwanted visitors, we share some tips that’ll allow you to achieve both.
If you’re not particularly fond of bees, moths or butterflies but you want to help in these conservation efforts, why not plant or create insect zones in your garden that you don’t frequent.
You can do this in the following ways:
Bug hotels are extremely common to pick up which saves you having to put your woodworking skills to the test. The advantage of a bug hotel in your garden is it is a great way to encourage insects into your garden. It also provides them with a safe environment if they feel under threat or when the weather is particularly awful and provides them a safe space to make their nests if they need it. The BBC have created a fab guide on the types of materials the insects like when it comes to making or selecting your bug hotel.
Plant flowers they’ll love
The Royal Horticultural Society offers a complete, comprehensive guide on encouraging pollinators into your garden. One way you can do this is to plant flowers they love. Here they offer 10 wild flowers and 10 garden plants that bees and butterflies love:
- Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)
- Centaurea scabiosa (greater knapweed)
- Digitalis purpurea (common foxglove)
- Eupatorium cannabinum (hemp agrimony)
- Lonicera periclymenum (common honeysuckle)
- Origanum vulgare (wild marjoram)
- Thymus pulegioides (large thyme)
- Trifolium repens (white clover)
- Verbascum nigrum (dark mullein)
- Viburnum opulus (guelder rose)
- Caryopteris × clandonensis (caryopteris)
- Dianthus barbatus (sweet william)
- Hesperis matronalis (dame’s violet)
- Hyssopus officinalis (hyssop)
- Jasminum officinale (common jasmine)
- Lavandula angustifolia (English lavender)
- Lychnis coronaria (rose campion)
- Monarda didyma (bergamot or bee balm)
- Verbena bonariensis (purple top)
- Weigela florida (weigela)
Avoid harmful chemicals
We know there are certain bugs that you want to keep at bay in both the home and garden but in our conservation efforts we’re going to have to forgo that ant-killer or typical wasp traps and even say goodbye to handy weed killers. Plants that pollinate, including dandelions are attractive to bumblebees as is sweet tasting things that we often use to trap ants or wasps so when we lay these traps for specific aspects we’re inadvertently contributing to fall of the bee.
When it comes to weed extraction- if possible (talking working with a small amount), get the weed at the root to stop it from coming back and spreading. If you’re struggling with a few bits, all hope is not lost. Look for organic, all natural and bee promoted products like Neurdorff or you can make your own with white wine vinegar: http://www.weed-killer.net/organic-weed-killer.html
We know though that not all insects are wanted, particularly when eating outdoors. As highlighted above, chemicals and traps we use specifically for ants and wasps can actually be pretty attractive to bumble bees too, so if you’d prefer certain insects keep away, follow our below guide to make your time outdoors more enjoyable whilst helping the pollinating insects.
Most insects do not like particularly strong scents. If you have a particular pest problem or want them to avoid certain areas of your garden when you’re in it, use the following scents:
Cucumber– There is a particular chemical in cucumber that is particularly potent to wasps and bees. These are insects that like sweet smells whereas to them, the cucumber is quite bitter. Lay slices on your table, use it in your food or scatter them on the grass to keep them at bay.
Citronella– is a scent that keeps spiders at bay. There are plenty of citronella candles that you can use outdoors to help keep these pests away.
Vinegar– Ants are really not keen on the strong smell of vinegar. If you’ve a particular ant problem, line the area with flour and vinegar and you’re problem will be gone the natural way.
Peppermint Oil– is a scent wasps, ants and spiders don’t like. Mix a few drops of this essential oil with water or apply to cotton wool pads and place them in areas you don’t want to be bothered.
Protect your food
If you’re intending on being outdoors for a prolonged period of time. Make sure your food and drink is covered. Sweet smells will attract most insects to your table and in the summer months wasps are particularly attracted to protein- having your food in airtight containers or nets will help deter any unwanted visitors.
Watch what you wear
In addition to smells, wasps are attracted to bright colours as they assume it’s a flower. Greens, whites, beiges and other neutral colours will help you have a pleasant time outdoors.