College Art Professor Challenges Students To Build Insect Motels : NPR

A concerned University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee art instructor challenged her students to construct insect motels out of natural, untreated materials. Each motel must provide an appropriate habitat for a particular insect and attract human interest too, as each has a QR Code with information about why that bug or bee matters in nature and needs to be nurtured. Nearly 100 are installed in a state park overlooking Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee.



ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

At the University of Wisconsin, some students are blending art and science to create hotels that might save disappearing insects. Susan Bence of member station WUWM explains.

SUSAN BENCE, BYLINE: Every year, lecturer Katie Martin-Meurer watched her three-dimensional design course students complete their projects and dump them into the garbage after being graded. So she decided that instead they should create bird houses for a local park. But then Martin-Meurer was shocked to learn there might not be enough insects for those birds to eat. She relayed the information to her students in a cavernous university classroom.

KATIE MARTIN-MEURER: Insects, worms and other small animals that carry out vital functions for life on Earth have declined by 45 percent on average over 35 years.

BENCE: Scientists have identified nearly a million species of insects, yet entomologists are alarmed about some steep declines in invertebrates. They point to herbicide spray and loss of habitat. The list goes on. After hearing that, Martin-Meurer decided her students would create habitats out of natural materials. They would need to be durable and functional and of course artsy. The insect hotel project was born.

Daniel Young has observed insect decline firsthand. The UW-Madison entomologist has been studying a rare lake trout beetle for years. He calls the insect hotel project a marriage between art and science that nature needs right now.

DANIEL YOUNG: Ecosystems are…

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