We’re going to build a bug hotel to provide a safe and welcoming habitat for a range of interesting and important bugs. Insects (and other minibeasts) are an essential part of the ecosystem. The more diversity there is in that ecosystem, the better. Species like woodlice, solitary bees/wasps and ladybirds seek out sheltered places to spend the cold winter months, and a bug hotel can provide that shelter in a garden.
What to do
- Ask an adult to cut the tops off the plastic bottles and cover the sharp cut edge with masking tape. Cut up the bamboo canes into short lengths that will fit neatly in the length of the cut bottles.
- Choose a suitable place for your bug hotel – minibeasts need somewhere dry, sheltered, and insulated from the cold to overwinter. The hotels themselves will provide some insulation. However, a sheltered location such as an outside windowsill is good for small hotels. An area sheltered by trees or near to buildings/walls is good for a large hotel.
- Pack the bottle tightly with folded or rolled strips of cardboard and lengths of bamboo. Fill up any large gaps with hay or straw. Insects need small gaps to make their homes, but it should be packed tightly enough that the material doesn’t rattle or fall out.
- Put the hotel on its side in your chosen location. You can use string, tape or wire to secure it in place if necessary.
- Check back in a few weeks or months to see if any insects have moved in, but be careful not to disturb overwintering insects!
Take it Further
If you have space you could build a giant hotel, using wooden pallets. Stack the flat pallets on top of each other and use hard, heavy materials such as stones and bricks to fill in the pallets, then add lighter materials like sticks, leaves and straw to fill up the gaps.
Find out more about your local environment by planning an environmental survey.
This activity is adapted from our partners at the Woodland Trust’s “Nature Detectives” programme