Wild about Nature – Bug hotels

This our last Wild about Nature activity for now – we hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as we have! We’ll start to see the leaves turning yellow and falling off the trees soon as the weather gets colder. If you’d like to keep enjoying nature all Winter, try making a bug hotel. Some insects stay active through Winter while others, like solitary bees, can use bug hotels to hibernate so they can survive the cold weather and wake up in Spring. Larger bug hotels can also shelter other animals like frogs, toads, and even hedgehogs.

If you don’t have a garden you could still make a small bug hotel to put on an outdoor windowsill or balcony, or fix to the outer wall of your house. Just make sure it won’t get knocked over in strong winds. Big or small, bug hotels are a great way to see wildlife close up and create safe hideaways for small creatures. Some animals like cool, damp conditions and some prefer the sun, so you could have multiple bug hotels in your garden and see if they attract different animals.

photo of large bug hotel, instructions below

What you’ll need

You can use all sorts of materials to make a bug hotel, including some you can find in nature and others you can buy or recycle. For a large bug hotel like ours you’ll need:

  • 4 or more bricks
  • 3 or 4 wooden pallets (or you could use wooden planks and more bricks)
  • Planks or tiles for the roof
  • Things for bugs to shelter in/between like dead wood, bamboo tubes, straw, sticks, dry leaves, stones, tiles, plant pots or pieces of smashed pots, bark, and chunks of wood with holes drilled into it
  • For a small bug hotel you will need to make or buy a small wooden box to use

Making your bug hotel

  1. Decide where to build your bug hotel – the ground needs to be firm and level.
  2. Start by putting bricks on the ground for your corners, then stack 3 or 4 wooden pallets on top, or planks then bricks for 3-4 layers. You’re more likely to attract hedgehogs if you leave big gaps between the bricks at the bottom.
  3. Fill the gaps in your bug hotel with different things from our list above.
  4. Leave some bigger gaps in the middle – this will help frogs and toads through Winter.
  5. Add a roof using tiles or planks to keep the bug hotel quite dry. You can also add some roof felt.
  6. Finally, you could add some finishing touches to your hotel such as painting the roof or making a sign.

Here are a few bug hotels we found online to give you some more ideas:

Keep an eye on your bug hotel and you could see all sorts of bugs and other small animals all year round. It’s a lot of fun to spot different animals, but make sure you don’t move things around too much, especially during Winter as you may have some hibernating guests who want to sleep until Spring.

wild flowers in long grassAnother way you can see more wildlife in your garden is by letting an area grow wild. Have you noticed any new wildflowers and grasses growing in your garden this year?

Keeping longer grass can increase biodiversity by providing a home for small creatures and letting more plant species move in and grow. Leaving some long grass at the end of Summer can also help some hibernating animals, so think about whether you really need to cut the grass or whether mowing a small pathway through it will do.

Don’t forget to take some photos of your bug hotels and any exciting hotel guests and tag us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Check out other Wild about Nature activities here.