Most people either don’t notice them, swat them away or cruelly stamp on them: insects. But these tiny creatures actually deserve our praises or even a medal. Without insects, many of our crops wouldn’t thrive. Without insects, the soil would be infertile. In fact without insects, would there even be life? Nobody knows the answer to this question, but one thing is patently clear: insects are vital – including in our cities, and yes, also in The Hague. Bring the family to Het Nutshuis between 24 May and 17 August to take a closer look at these wonderful, useful urban bugs.

Nature lovers and environmentalists have already sounded the alarm: over three-quarters of our insect population has disappeared in the past thirty years. The main causes are the loss of their habitat and the use of pesticides in intensive farming. These developments mean that it is essential to take good care of an alternative natural area: our cities.

Our organic Nutshuis garden, with beehives and a pond, form the ideal spot for a family exhibition entitled Urban bugs. Six Graphic Design students from the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, have created installations featuring four different insects: the woodlouse, the moth, the wild bee and the ant. Texts, pictures and assignments explain how these tiny creatures help to keep our cities healthy and what you can do to improve life for insects.

For example, did you know that ants are the most efficient refuse collectors known to man? In Manhattan, ants remove almost a thousand kilos of rubbish from the New York streets every year. Woodlice are also good at waste collection, but this time in the soil. These grubbing ‘land-based marine creatures’ loosen the earth and make it more porous for rainwater. And we all know about the role that wild bees play in pollinating and perpetuating many types of fruit and vegetables, but do you know what we can do to cheer up our wild bee populations? Stop mowing all the grass in our cities to within a millimetre of its life, and leave some of it to develop into flower-laden meadowland. This will also help the moths that pollinate the white campion, a common urban perennial.

The exhibition at Het Nutshuis also features The Hague-based artist Hans Eijkenboom, who has built an enormous insect hotel in the Nutshuis garden, where a wide diversity of urban bugs can come and ‘chill’. Insects from outside The Hague also make an appearance in this exhibition. Sonologist Yvonne Freckman recorded insect sounds on the borders of South-Africa and Botswana for her audio-installation Sonic Savannah.

Wednesday-afternoon children’s workshops
Alongside the creative assignments in the exhibition itself, Het Nutshuis is also organising twelve children’s workshops on Wednesday afternoons. So budding insect investigators between 6 and 12 can come and meet our friendly bee colony, explore life below the surface and go on an exciting ‘bugventure’!