We visited the Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center this weekend. We were there for a family photo session, which was a lot of fun! It was a beautiful place to take photos and had lots of things for the kids to run around and do between shots. It’s getting cold, and so taking jackets off to look pretty enough for the pictures was a little daunting at first, but the kids quickly didn’t care as they ran around and build up some internal heat!
At the Foothills Learning Center, there’s a great Story Trail, where you can walk around and read a book, a double page spread at a time. I’ve been meaning to take Smalls up there to see it for ages and was glad to finally have the opportunity to try it out.
There are lots of logs, small hills and rocks to clamber about on, which meant their fancy pants weren’t going to stay clean for long, but luckily our photographer got the best shots and fast, and then we could relax into just enjoying the place.
One of the things we spotted while we were there was an Insect Hotel, otherwise known as a Bug Hotel.
The kids were fascinated by the drilled logs and branches and netting to cover up areas to keep out larger predators. We had a good peek inside, being careful not to disturb anything, but couldn’t see any insects. It’s possible some are using it as a winter habitat to hibernate, either as adults or as eggs or pupae. It’s definitely possible there were things in there too far back for us to see!
There was an informational board that gave lots of information on why Insect Hotels are important and encouraging Boise residents to build their own in their garden. As soon as we saw that, Red and Smalls knew they wanted to get involved! Pollinators are essential for crops to grow, and habitats are in decline due to increased residential development.
We’re going to do some investigating this winter, and are looking forward to building this project and having it ready in a month or two. We’ve possibly missed the insects who could use it this winter, but that just gives us time to investigate further. One article I found almost immediately upon researching was this one about how to build an Insect Hotel properly. It includes some interesting information about considering which insects you wish to provide space for and the downsides of trying to provide refuge for too many different kinds of insects. I was interested to see that netting and pine cones are considered a no-no on this site, and so I will be sure we dig a little deeper before we start building. For one, I think it will be useful to research which kind of insects are native in this part of Idaho, which ones might need protection, and what other things like flowers and bushes we could have in our garden to help these types of insects thrive.
Once we get around to building our own Insect Hotel, I’ll be sure to post an update with information on how we did it. If you’re itching to get started, you can check out this article with a plan for building your own, or there are lots available to buy online or in gardening stores.
It’s important to me that the boys understand the impact we humans have on the natural world, and the ways we can try to redress the balance of the ways we encroach on other animals’ habitats. We are incredibly lucky to live just feet from the Boise foothills trails, but what that means is just a few decades ago this was a wild and natural area without residential development on it. When I talk to the boys about the advantages of living here, like being able to easily access the trails, I ask them to think about what it was like before we lived here, and what conservation efforts we can take. Providing a habitat for insects that once lived here, but have lost that due to our housing development being built on the land, seems a small step we can take in that direction.