Learning how to make a bug hotel is a pastime for many people in Britain. Back then, making an insect hotel in the UK was more of a cheap time killer to keep the kids entertained. Today, it holds a little more importance. The more we can help our insect community, the better.
Insects are part of the foundation of the world’s ecosystems – we will go with them if they disappear.
With this in mind, let’s explore how to help bugs in your garden. Offering them a place to stop over or even stay the night can help insect life because something like a bee can take shelter during bad weather, like an insect hotel or habitat. You can experiment and create your bug hotel or follow a plan. The choice is yours.
There are some methods and materials that you can use. We will cover some of those here to get you started helping the wildlife in your garden.
What is a bug hotel?
A bug hotel is a collection of garden debris piled up and left somewhere cool for insects to make into a habitat for themselves. Most people build layers using wooden pallets, logs or sticks and rocks. You then fill these layers with smaller items like pinecones, bamboo and garden litter.
After being left alone for a few days, little critters will begin to move in, and a positive ecosystem will flourish in your insect hotel.
What are bug hotels good for?
Bug hotels are great for supporting local wildlife, from insects to foxes. A strong ecosystem can help with pest control when growing vegetables too! A well-made insect hotel will become home to many critters who feed on things like ticks, fleas and larvae of unwanted bugs.
How to attract bugs to a bug hotel
To attract bugs to your bug hotel, you need to make sure it is:
- Built-in a cool and shady area of the garden
- Built with a variety of garden litter in different sizes
- It has lots of nooks and crannies for insects to hide in
- Kept out of direct sunlight
If you have properly made your insect hotel, it will attract bugs, and they will settle in.
What materials should I use for my bug hotel?
Be resourceful – insects are not fussy creatures but remember to avoid plastics! There are no do’s or don’ts when building a bug hotel. Get creative. The idea is to create a mix of nooks and crannies so insets can take shelter. Some popular things to use for bug hotels are:
- Bamboo cut into short lengths and stacked
- Old bricks, stones & fag stones
- Piles of bracken & sticks
- Logs of various stages of decay & size
- A pile of dead matter like leaves
- Old bird boxes
Bamboo is your best option to support bees because bees like to shelter during rain and wind, and bamboo offers great protection. Different bees have size requirements – for example
• The leafcutter bees need holes to be approximately 1/4″ wide and 2 1/2 -4″ deep
• A Mason bee needs holes that are around 6″ deep and about 5/16″ wide
Where to put an insect hotel in your garden?
A bug hotel should be somewhere out of direct sunlight as much as possible – you should keep the insect hotel reasonably cool and damp to provide the best insect habitat. A common place to put an insect hotel is behind a shed, an area of the garden used sparingly, like next to the compost bin.
Bug hotels can either be on the ground or suspended in a bush or tree
Where’s the best place to put a bug hotel – there isn’t one! Make a few boxes and put them out in different places. Not all insects live at the same level – varying where you put them will help more wildlife.
Another good technique is to get an old bird box & remove the front panel. Then fill the space with bamboo and bracken. Hang this in a tree or bush as a temporary hotel for bees and other flying insects.
Placing the insect hotel on the floor will provide shelter for other insects and creepy crawlies! Any empty wooden item can fill and stack in your garden space to provide safety and shelter.
What insects do bug hotels attract?
By building a bug hotel, you are providing a source of safety and shelter for:
- Bee’s (these guys need our help right now!)
- Green Lacewings
How composting can help wildlife in your gardening
Composting helps wildlife by providing shelter and a food source for the insect world. A compost heap will attract worms, beetles, woodlice and many other insects. These insects provide a great food source for birds, frogs and even slow worms in some parts of the UK.
Composting also provides the environment that helps support other vital life forms, such as mushrooms and other fungi. These are again a food source for birds and wildlife.
Leave an entrance clear for nocturnal wildlife.
At night your garden comes alive with a hedgehog’s favourite tasty treats! Before you go to bed, please spare a thought for the hungry nightlife trying to support its family and leave an entrance or two into the garden for them.
Leaving a little entrance for nature’s nightlife can eliminate annoying pests like slugs from your garden. Hedgehogs love slugs, and badgers, too, and they will relish the opportunity to get into your garden and clear your gastropod problem!
Sources: How to build a bug hotel RSPB