Bug hotels are a great way to invite nature’s smallest critters into your back yard. Bugs will come from far and wide to try out your new construction. Building a bug hotel is fun and easy, and it’s helpful to the environment because it gives shelter to a variety of insects, arthropods, and other small animals. Here’s how you can make your very own bug hotel.
Table of Contents
DIY: How To Make A Bug Hotel
List of Materials & Tools
- A wooden box or frame (you can recycle an old wooden crate or build one from scratch)
- Bamboo sticks, hollow plant stems, or cardboard tubes
- Twigs, small branches, and leaves
- Small stones or bricks
- Straw or hay
- Garden twine or string
- Moss, bark, pine needles, and small pieces of wood
- Safety glasses for everyone
- Hammer & Nails / Staple gun
- Radial-arm saw or table saw for cutting the wood frame if needed.
- could also use a jig saw, hand saw, band saw…
- Paint & Paintbrushes if you want to decorate
Step 1: Build The Frame
If you’re building the frame from scratch, create a simple box shape using wooden planks. Nail or staple the planks together securely. Make sure the front is open – this is where the bugs will check in! You can also use a wooden crate you find in the trash or recycling. Reusing found objects can speed up your build!
Step 2: Assemble Your Materials
Collect a variety of natural components, like twigs and stick, bamboo, dried leaves, pine cones, dry grass and hay, and so on. Also start gathering materials like old flower pots and cardboard, to help combine some of the natural elements you find. If you find some firewood logs, use a drill to make holes in the wood where bugs and critters can get cozy!
Use rope to tie sticks, twigs, grass, and hay into bundles, and stuff dry leaves into flower pots. Make sure each component you create is small enough to fit into your but hotel. Check out the pictures below for some inspiration about the kinds of things you can place in your bug hotel.
Step 3: Make Rooms In Your Bug Hotel
Now it’s time to give bugs a variety of cozy rooms. Fill the different sections of the bug hotel with different materials to attract various insects. Use all the components you assembles in step 2, and start filling in your bug hotel. Use wood pieces to separate the various rooms of your bug hotel if you want.
Bamboo and Hollow Stems: Stuff bamboo sticks, hollow plant stems, or cardboard tubes into some sections. These will be perfect hideaways for solitary bees and ladybugs.
Pinecones: Bugs like lacewings and spiders will love snuggling in pinecone nooks.
Twigs and Leaves: Fill a section with twigs, small branches, and leaves. These will attract beetles and other ground-dwelling critters.
Stones or Bricks: Create small crevices with stones or bricks for insects like ants.
Step 4: Decorate Your Bug Hotel
Get creative! Add pieces of moss, bark, pine needles, and small pieces of wood to give your bug hotel a natural look.
Congratulations, you’ve built a bug hotel that will give insects a cozy place to stay in your garden. It’s a wonderful way to help these little critters while learning more about the fascinating world of bugs!
Place your bug hotel in the chosen garden spot. Make sure it’s stable and won’t tip over easily.
Now comes the fun part – watching bugs check in! Keep an eye on your bug hotel and see who moves in. You might spot bees, butterflies, beetles, spiders, and more!
- Check your bug hotel every now and then to make sure it’s still stable and safe.
- In the winter, some bugs might use it to Hibernation is a remarkable survival strategy used by some animals to endure harsh winter conditions. During hibernation, these animals enter a deep, prolonged state of reduced activity, characterized by a significant drop in metabolic processes, including heart rate and body temperature, allowing them to conserve energy and survive through the challenging cold months. Learn More. Leave it untouched until spring.
- If you notice any signs of decay, replace old materials with fresh ones.
Take a look at some of these images of bug hotels to get inspiration! Your bug hotel can be as large or as little as you want, so have fun, and do what you can with the materials you have.
Material choices are really top if mind in this project. Kids will be thinking about what kinds of things they want to place in their bug hotel. Engage your kids with questions like:
- What kind of critter do you think might like this material?
- How will this materials stand up to rain, snow, wind?
- What kinds of critters do you think might like to be around this material?
Nesting vs Visiting, and Seasonal Changes
Some insects will nest, while others will simply come and go. Using bamboo or logs with holes drilled into them may make it more likely to see solitary bees or wasps nest there, or even spiders. Some spaces may be more suited to visiting animals, like butterflies or moths, frogs, crickets, and snakes. Engage your kids with predicting what they believe will live in the spaces in between their materials, and in what season.
Predators and Prey
Your bug hotel may attrack both predators and prey animals. For example, a toad may take up residence there, along with crickets, pill bugs, centipedes, or spiders. Ask your kids what kinds of predators may be able to live in their bug hotel, and whether or not they want to take steps to prevent predators from taking up residence. If so, how would they do it?
There’s a lot to explore right where we are, in our own neighborhoods and backyards! Join us while we get off the couch and explore the everyday wonders of nature, science, space, engineering, art, and anything else we stumble upon during on our adventures.