In order to have a good variety of wildlife in your garden you need to have a healthy insect population. Insects do some very important jobs in the garden and are the food of many creatures. You can help to encourage more insects to live in your garden by knowing how to make a bug hotel / insect hotel / bug house or insect house. You can have one big one, or perhaps a few smaller ones will suit your situation better.
It is a man-made structure that is made from different natural materials. They can be big or small and can be different shapes depending on the purpose for it and the insects that will live there.
At the end of the day, whatever you call these structures they are all the same, people just have different names for them.
As you can see from all 3 images above, there is no set way to make your own bug hotel / insect hotel.
There are many reasons why you want to have a healthy insect population in your garden and there are a few different ways that you can create areas where insects like to live. One way is through knowing how to attract pollinators, another is knowing how to use logs and stick piles to create homes for insects.Your plants need insects for pollination so that they can produce fruit and seeds. You need the good bugs to keep the bad bugs under control, for example ladybirds eat aphids.
Some insects are good for eating rotting plant material and wood, thus adding important nutrients to the soil. They are also food for different creatures including birds, bats, frogs, toads, lizards, fish and even some small mammals like hedgehogs.
An insect hotel is really just a collection of different materials that insects like to live and breed in, all placed close together in a frame. It can be any size that suits your garden. Some people like to have one big hotel, others like a few small specialised houses, first thing to do is plan it out.
When building a bug hotel there are a few things to consider:
There are many materials that you can use in an insect hotel and this is a good chance to do some recycling and re-purposing. Make sure everything that you use is natural and not treated with chemicals or anything that might be harmful to insects.
Close up of the parts and marials used when building a bug hotel / insect hotel.
Depending on the type and size of hotel that you want to build you might need something to use as a frame. This could be old wooden pallets, old shelves, even an old cupboard; it could just be a few clay bricks and a couple of planks; or it can be built to the size and shape you want it to be. You will want to put some sort of roof over it to keep it dry in wet weather. This will help the insects to keep dry and safe and will also give them a place to overwinter in the cold areas.
These are just some ideas and once you get going you are sure to find many items that you can use for your insect habitat.
Create sections with the different materials to cater for the different insects. Solitary bees like to nest in holes in wood or logs. For this you will need to drill holes in a log or in piece of wood. Fill a section with a bunch of stick and another with grasses or reeds, or you can mix them up in one section. Stones can have their section, broken clay pieces in theirs. Use some overturned clay pots that insects and other creatures can crawl under.
To put leaves or moss and other softer materials in a section you can make a cage for these using some chicken wire and then push this into place. The chicken wire will prevent the material from falling out or being blown away by the wind.
There are many ways to do this and there are really no rules. This can be a really fun family project for a weekend at home. Once you have your insect hotel built you have a place where you can discover what insects you have in your garden. Not all the insects will use it, but if you have created a variety of habitats in it then it will be used by a good variety of them. Don’t be surprised if you also find some other creatures like beetles or lizards (depending on where you live) making use of your new habitat.