Monday, 8 December 2014

Could we have our first tenant?

Open Homes

I put out the three test insect homes today and a few open home signs around the undergrowth to raise awareness amongst the local insect population. I am going away for a few weeks so have left the homes in the care of a property manager, so if any new tenants have issues they can be sorted out. I look forward to seeing if there are any takers.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Resonating Bodies

"Resonating Bodies” is a series of integrated media installations, community outreach projects and educational initiatives which focuses on biodiversity of pollinators indigenous to the natural and urban ecosystems of Canada, with special focus on the city Toronto. 

A community/art/environmental project, lead by Sarah Peebles in Toronto, Canada more information here.


"Wunderbugs is an interactive architecture fully dedicated to the human-insect relationship, curated and designed by Francesco Lipari and Vanessa Todaro from OFL Architecture"
More information from here and on tumblr.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Ant Farms

Unlike Australia New Zealand doesn't do very well in the ant department, according to Landcare Research we have 11 endemic species and 29 introduced species. Ants are one insect species that has been kept in 'homes' for over a hundred years and commonly known as ant farms.

I plan to design one of the insect homes for ants but there are many other interesting projects which have used ants, some of which are shown below.

The World Flag Ant Farm by Yukinori Yanag, more information here.

Not strictly an ant farm, but ants could certainly use the chair, more information here.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Making the Homes Comfortable

The aim of each of the insect homes is to try and encourage a single native species of insect to take up residency and this, from the little research I have done, will be difficult. But the plan at the moment is to try and replicate the natural habitat of the insect species in the box, so for the solitary bees it will be compacted sand to mimic their nesting areas. Weta on the other hand are one species that seems to be relatively easy to build a home for and there are plenty of places around New Zealand that provide weta hotels.

An actual Weta Hotel

Image Via
Image Via
Image Via

Just Added Insects

Just Add Insects

Some of the different designs for the insect homes, all based on state houses, except one which is based on a workers cottage, these were the predecessors of state housing in New Zealand.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Night House

Another design idea for one of the homes will be for moths as it will have a light to attract them, and I shall make it with an open window so they don't have to spend all their time banging into it. But why moths don't just come out in the daytime when there is lots of light is beyond me. 

Moths frequently appear to circle artificial lights, although the reason for this behavior remains unknown. One hypothesis to explain this behavior is that moths use a technique of celestial navigation called transverse orientation. By maintaining a constant angular relationship to a bright celestial light, such as the moon, they can fly in a straight line. Celestial objects are so far away, that even after travelling great distances, the change in angle between the moth and the light source is negligible; further, the moon will always be in the upper part of the visual field, or on the horizon. When a moth encounters a much closer artificial light and uses it for navigation, the angle changes noticeably after only a short distance, in addition to being often below the horizon. The moth instinctively attempts to correct by turning toward the light, causing airborne moths to come plummeting downward, and resulting in a spiral flight path that gets closer and closer to the light source
From Wikipedia

How to Attract a Giraffe Weevil?

I will be building some test insect homes soon so I will have to learn how to attract various insects to take up residence in their swanky new homes. So if you see a man of around 50 years make sounds like a male cicada next to a small wooden box, you don't need to ring the police. But first I will need to choose what insects might be best to attract.

From Modernist Flats to Insect Homes

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Wellington Flats

There are a couple of major blocks of flats in Wellington that were built as social housing, the Dixon Street Flats and Gordon Wilson Flats, so I took some photos and played around with them to see how they might work as insect homes.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Why State Housing ?

The theme for Splore 2015 festival is 'Home' and I thought about a few different ideas before submitting 'Homes for Unsung Heroes'. The festival is held at Tapapakanga Regional Park, south of Auckland and so the idea for what called the area home lead to me thinking about the wildlife in the area and specifically insects.

This further developed into thinking about how they could be celebrated for the work they do, mostly unseen, in supporting a healthy ecosystem and in turn providing homes for them  to help maintain and build their numbers as their natural habitats come under increasing pressure for land.

State Housing seemed an obvious choice as they have been built across the country and come in a range of designs, shapes and sizes as family needs changed.

For more information on the history of state housing there is an interesting article of the New Zealand History website here.


I have started designing some posters for the Pledge Me campaign based on old posters about state housing, more to come soon.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Weta Homes

Weta are a species of cricket found only in New Zealand and some are restricted to off shore islands as the mainland population has been effected by the arrival of predators, such as rats. Some of them grow to a large size and can look frightening.

In many places across New Zealand people have made various designs for weta hotels and they seem happy to move in where they are provided. The design I plan to develop is using as a starting point some state flats, which will be on the facade, behind this will be a log, split in half and a space hollowed out to all the weta to live in comfort.

I will look at having the facade hinged so people can have a look at an weta that have made the flats their home. You can also get a guide on making your own weta home and the video shows a simple method, using bamboo and wire from here.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Everybody go: Insect Hotels, Motels, Holiday Inns...?

I am showing my age, but back to insect homes and hotels. As pressure on land increases and the natural habitats of everything from, elephants to kiwi are under threat, insects are no exception. As awareness grows on the importance of a well balanced ecosystem and a rich biodiversity to provide a healthy environment, support is needed for both the cute and cuddly and small and ugly creatures on the planet. Insects more often than not fall into the small and ugly category but are still a crucial part of the environment.

Building insect shelters is a means to counter the loss of their natural habitats by providing a place for them to live and breed and hopefully thrive, of course the best way would be to of not destroyed the habitat in the first place. So another important element of providing insect homes and hotels is to raise awareness of their important role and the damage done by destroying their natural habitats.

Below are some examples of the many forms insect homes and hotels can take and some times it can be as simple as not mowing the grass and leaving a pile of leaves in the garden.