A bug hotel, also known as an insect hotel or insect house, is a structure created to provide shelter for insects.
There are no set rules when it comes to building your own bug hotel – it can be made to any size or shape and from a variety of materials. Most consist of several different sections that provide insects with nesting facilities, offer shelter and provide a hidey-hole.
So, why build one? Bugs might not seem like particularly influential visitors to your garden, but they’re vital for biodiversity and to keep our ecosystem working.
Enticing them into your garden does come with its rewards too – bugs will repay you generously during the spring and summer months when they help control pests and pollinate your flowering plants.
Only got 5 minutes
Insects are valuable friends to our gardens and vital to the natural world.
A bug hotel is simple to make; helps the environment; is a great way of recycling, and provides all kinds of creepy crawlies with somewhere to live.
There are no hard rules when it comes to building a bug hotel – just some general guidelines to ensure your hotel achieves a 5-star rating!
- Choose a suitable location – sheltered and ideally, shaded.
- Arrange some bricks on the ground to act as the hotel’s foundations.
- Layer old pallets on top of each other as tall as you’d like the bug hotel to be (make sure it’s secure by attaching the pallets to each other using string or pull ties).
- Fill in the gaps in the pallets with natural materials such as dead leaves, moss, straw, cardboard and felt.
- Use old roof tiles or wooden planks covered with felt to create a roof for your bug hotel.
Now you are ready to sit back and wait for your ‘guests’ to start arriving!
Your bugs may not be particularly active during winter as they’ll be hibernating, but during the warmer months, they’ll be more-than-happy to repay your hospitality – they’ll pollinate your flowering plants and help control pests in your garden,
Why should I build a bug hotel?
Safe hideaways can be hard for wildlife to find, especially for insects who, if we’re honest, are so tiny that often they don’t get given a second thought.
Ironically though, bugs are vitally important when it comes to our planet. Insects have been described as little creatures that run the world, and there’s a lot of truth to this seemingly simple statement.
Without insects to aid in breaking down dead plant and animal matter, we’d soon be suffocating under a blanket of waste and decay.
Despite this, insect populations are declining across the world at an alarming rate. If this rapid decline continues, 40% of the world’s insect species could become extinct over the next few decades.
So, if you want to help and do your bit for the planet, as well as finding a use for your garden waste and odds and ends, build your own bug hotel.
What you will need
To make the best bug hotel be creative!
There are no rules and no star ratings – bugs are not fussy guests!!!
By using a mixture of natural waste, odds and ends and garden foliage, you are sure to build a bug hotel which replicates different habitats, resulting in an insect haven that can house a wide range of bugs and even small mammals.
|What to use|
|Natural materials||Recycled materials|
|Logs and twigs Rotting wood Spare rolls of turf Dry leaves Bark Hollow plant stems Pine cones Sand Soil Woodchips Moss Straw and hay Bamboo canes||Wooden pallets Broken plant pots Corrugated cardboard Drainpipe Roofing felt Planks of wood Plastic bottles Broken bricks and tiles Stone chippings|
Where bugs like to live
Bugs have their own special requirements when they’re looking for a home: somewhere nice and damp, lots of mess and, for the more high-maintenance guests, a bit of mould is always appreciated!
|Wood-boring beetles, centipedes, spiders, millipedes and woodlice||Dead, rotting wood and loose bark|
|Solitary bees||Hollow stems and canes; small tubes with holes made out of bamboo; reeds and drilled logs|
|Ladybirds||Dry leaves, pine cones, sticks or straw|
|Butterflies||Wood (with slits)|
A step-by-step guide to building the best bug hotel
- Choose a suitable location. It needs to be level and on firm, well-drained ground. Most insects like cool, moist conditions so shaded areas tend to be ideal. It should be sheltered – you don’t want your bug hotel being blown away!
- Layer some bricks on the ground, ideally creating an H-shape to ensure the weight will be evenly supported.
- Layer old pallets on top of each other as tall as you’d like the bug hotel to be. Ensure the stack of pallets is stable by securing them to each other using twine or pull ties.
- Fill in the gaps in the pallets with the materials you have collected – the idea is to provide all sorts of different nooks and crannies, crevices, tunnels and cosy beds.
- Once you’ve filled all the gaps and checked your pallet stack is secure, use old roof tiles or old planks covered with felt to create a roof. Although the majority of bugs like the damp, too much rain and your guests may drown.
Top Tip – To make the roof blend in and look as natural as possible, cover it with soil or rubble.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best time to build a bug hotel is in early autumn so that the bugs have somewhere to hibernate for the winter.
Most activity in your bug hotel is likely to be after dark in the warmer months so go out and watch, knowing that you’re doing your bit to help the environment
Even if you haven’t got a garden, you can still build a bug hotel. An insect box takes up little space so you could put one on a balcony, or fix it to an exterior wall. If they aren’t too heavy, they can even be secured to window boxes.