Text by Isabella Wu, TMNCPC 2020; photo by Lynn Trenta, Courier Newsletter editor. Blogmaster Paula Dittrick condensed this into a blog from an article in January 2021 Courier.
The Habitat (Demo) Garden out by the prairie within Seabourne Creek Nature Park (SCNP) provides stems, leaves, and seeds, giving insects and other wildlife a place to shelter during the colder months.
Birds require water and food sources all winter. You can provide high-fat sunflower seeds, peanuts, and grated suet. Fruit is a favorite of robins, blackbirds, and thrushes. Fresh water in birdbaths help birds keep their feathers clean, and therefore be more waterproof and warmer.
Aquatic creatures will appreciate you keeping the surface of your pond from freezing over by placing a floating ball to create ripples or by melting a hole through the ice using boiling water. You help frogs and toads overwinter by stacking logs and clay tiles near the edge of your pond.
Many insects in Texas are freeze avoidant, meaning they cannot survive their internal bodily fluids being frozen. People need to be cautious when cultivating plants or mulching because queen bees, butterflies and moths may be hibernating beneath the ground’s surface and at the base of food plants and grasses.
Insects overwinter in hollow plant stems so landowners are urged to hold off on cutting herbaceous perennials until springtime. Leaf litter and debris serve as habitat for insects and nutrients for the soil.
A bug hotel can help ensure seasonal plant pollination. You can easily build one using hollow bamboo, sticks, pinecones, straw, wood drilled with holes and hollow bricks. These materials go in a wooden frame that is covered a metal mesh. The best place for an insect hotel is in a shaded area. You can find inspiration for your hotel by checking the Demo Garden at SCNP in Rosenberg.