Constructing a Beneficial Insect Watering Station

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Ready for Guests!

When I looked again at the bug hotel which I made a couple of years back, with a view to improving it, I also looked at the provision I had made for supplying water to the beneficial insects which I hoped to attract. I had put in a 200mm terracotta pot which I intermittently filled with water and this was clearly not good enough. If the sides are steep the insects can have difficulty accessing the water in the first place and there is always a chance they can fall in and drown. Fortunately there is always something new to learn so I did some research and realised what I needed to make so they could have a safer and more accessible water supply.

The base

To provide water for insects the idea is that the water should be shallow and full of objects which the insects can land on then move down and get to the water without danger of falling in and then fly off again when they are ready. One of the downsides of shallow water with lots of landing spots for insects, though, is that the water can evaporate quite quickly and they are left with no water source at all, so I decided to add in a “self-waterer” like I did with the self-watering bird bath.

The self-watering bit consists of a 750ml glass bottle, kept full of water and upturned so that the water flows out once the water level in the dish falls below a certain point. I had an old terracotta pot saucer which is 32cm across and about 3cm deep, which made an ideal base.

To put the waterer into place I used some silicon to attach a 50mm floor flange onto a length of 50mm tube, then drilled some 2mm holes through the flange and pipe to let water out. I drilled the holes so that when the assembly was in place they would be about 10mm below the rim of the dish, this would give a corresponding depth of water of about 20mm.

Tube and flange, with holes drilled

This assembly was then attached to the bottom of the pot saucer, in the centre, with more silicon. I cut the length of pipe such that the lip of the bottle was about 10mm below the rim of the dish, so that when the water level dropped below that point more water would flow from the upturned bottle into the insect waterer, refilling it.

Flange and tube installed

As with the bird bath, the upside down bottle placed in the 50mm tubing moved around quite a bit, so to make it more steady I used a rubber 25mm cuff used to connect 25mm flexible greywater tubes to 34mm outlets. I installed it by pushing it onto the neck of the bottle and folding it over (with some effort) on itself twice, it gave me a very snug fit, with no movement of the bottle at all.

Rubber cuff over the neck of the bottle

Rubber cuff folded over itself

With the watering bit in place I now needed to put some material in which the insects could walk on to get at the water. I have seen some pretty ones that had coloured gravel, glass beads or even marbles, but when I looked into the costs I decided to see what I had hanging around. Years ago I had covered an area between the garage and the fence with roughly 12mm rounded pebbles, so I just scraped up a few handfuls, washed them off and placed them in the pot waterer.

Gravel in place

To make sure the water is at just the right height I filled the bottle up with water and then placed it into the waterer, letting it dribble out so I could see what the final water level was like. I seemed to hit it spot on; the water was about half way up some of the gravel so access was good without the water being too deep. If it hadn’t been right I would have adjusted the height of the gravel by putting more in or taking some out so that the water level was right.

Ready to go!

I installed it on a small pedestal 3 bricks high, to get it up off the ground and in front of the newly raised bug hotel. So now all of the beneficial insects can check into the bug hotel, then have a drink at the bar afterwards!

Ready for Guests!



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