Both my kids adore digging around in the garden and exploring – finding ants and beetles and worms and bugs. So I knew it wouldn’t be long before we HAD to make a simple Bug Hotel for our backyard with them – the perfect Garden Craft for kids to get stuck into.
Our easy bug hotel is probably as simple and as easy as it gets – there are many prettier and cleverer bug hotels out there, but sometimes, you just have to make do with what you have and also make it easy for the kids to join in.
So we made ours with “local materials” and avoided any drilling or cutting tools. Perfect garden crafts for young children! We actually made this with Pip Squeak (3yrs), Red Ted (5yrs) AND the neighbour’s boy who is 8years. Loved that the different age groups enjoyed working on this together.
Why make a bug house?
Bugs are an important part of our eco system. They do all sorts of useful things for us, fromproviding shelter to pollinators like bees and bumble bees (even the wasp is an important pollinator) to beneficial insects that help create our compost or eat garden pests such as green fly and other aphids. Bug houses, provide a shelter for our little friends and welcome them into our garden. If creating our plastic bottle bug hotel, you can also view your bugs at home and observe them in their house.
So you bug hotel may offer a refuge to solitary bees, give ladybugs somewhere to lay eggs or other wildlife a place to nest and feel secure.
Bugs, such as woodlice or millipedes, also provide food for other wildlife such as hedgehogs, frogs and toads, which we want to encourage in our gardens. It is so important to encourage biodiversity into our gardens and backyards.
DIY Bug Hotels really are great for all sorts of wildlife! You can buy specific bug hotels e.g. a bee hotel or hotels for ladybirds. But I feel making your own is far better – as commercial ones don’t always “work” and bugs like to find their own place to stay. With a homemade one, you can’t go wrong.
Once your bug hotelis made (as per the instructions below), do grab our BUG Explore Paper Toy and use it as a prompt to find and learn about common insects!
Simple Bug Hotel – Materials:
- A large plastic bottle cut into two cylinders,
- String for hanging
- sticks & twigs,
- pine cones,
- pieces of moss
- anything else you can find – bamboo with it’s holes, make natural straws, which are great hidey hole for insects and bugs! Basically any natural materials are great!
We also had some broken plant pots but forgot all about them. Other bug hotels include other materials such as corn and drilled pieces of wood – to provide different nooks and crannies. I love the one from Garden Therapy. Have a look for inspiration.
But in essence, I would say: “think natural”, “think nooks and crannies”, “think what will last” (e.g. paper could go soggy and leaves will go brittle and break/ disintegrate). It is great to use things from YOUR local environment, as you are looking to attract bugs and beetles and insects from the same local environment.
Large Wooden Pallet Insect Hotels
I love this information page from the BBC available for download and that we found on the Metro, giving you an idea what different creatures may or may not like! As with all living things, insects and bugs like different habitats – so the more variety you can offer the better:
Pallet DIY bug hotels really are great for bigger spaces and providing a habitat for LOTS of creatures and animals. These are wonderful for wild areas or garden areas in schools or communal garden plots. You can combine wooden pallets with a wooden box and bigger items such as bricks, plant pots and wood chips. A great way to create a different layer for different creatures.
Can I make a Tin Can Bug Hotel?
Back to small byg hotels. Can I make Tin Can Bug Hotels? Yes! Tin cans are super fun for making bug hotels too and can replace the plastic bottle used here. We just find the plastic bottle is easier to manage – as you can cut to size quickly and easily. They also don’t rust (which is something to watch out for). However a Tin Can Bug Hotel, can be decorated it more easily. So it is really just a question of personal preference and what supplies you have to hand!
Where is the best place to put a bug hotel?
Generally a warm dry place is best for your insect hotel. You don’t want it filling up with water in the rain. Having said that, it is important to remember that different bugs and insects live in different places. So you may want to experiment. If putting your bug hotel close to the ground, you may want to lift it off the ground on some stones or brick and also make sure, that any rain water can easily “flow out”. Hanging in a bush or tree or securing from a window box is a great location. Just make sure you provide adequate shelter for your visitors!
How to make a Simple Bug Hotel
Time needed: 15 minutes.
- Cut the bottlw down to size
We cut our bottle down to shape (may I add, that I actually drank 2 litres of fizzy water, especially for this task as we accidentally threw out our last bottle in the recycling?? Argh!)
- Arrange your materials
Check what materials you have and arrange by size and texture – we snapped our twigs to make them a little smaller. Had larger and bigger ones. Arranged pinecones.
- Decide on the insect hotel location and add twine for hanging
If you plan to hang your bug hotel, loop some garden twine round and then start layering your bug hotel. We did one hotel for on the ground and one for hanging from a tree to see if would attract different creatures.
- Make the insect hotel nice and cozy
Stuff it to make it nice and firm, so it doesn’t get blown about!
So what else can you make your bug hotel from? How can you maybe waterproof it to add additional elements? Check out this great version from 1der.and.cre8 on instagram.
If your kids enjoy observing.. why not give this How to Raise Tadpoles post a go? So fascinating for kids!
You may also like our grass heads:
More Garden Crafts (for all ages) here: