The Bug Hotel
How to build a bug hotel and attract Wildlife into your garden
Bringing Wildlife into Your Garden
One of the best things about having a garden is that it’s a great place for wildlife to live.
With a bug hotel you will begin to encourage a whole community of wildlife to move into your garden, because it’s not just a 5 star hotel for creepy crawlies.
There's no such thing as waste in nature
More people are realising that biodiversity is at the heart of every successful garden. Without wildlife in your garden, there is no garden.
Building a bug hotel with the RSPB
Here’s a video from the RSPB to show you just how easy it is to bring wildlife back into our gardens, on a smaller scale.
So when is the best time to build a Bug Hotel?
Bug hotels can be created at any time of the year, but try to get one made in time for winter so that your new friends will have somewhere cosy to hibernate in the colder months.
They make the perfect hideaway for hedgehogs, frogs and toads, solitary bees and bumble bees, ladybirds and all sorts of other bugs that help to compost the garden waist, it also provides the perfect alternative location for some critters who would otherwise seek out the veg plot.
Not forgetting the natural order of things, when you attract one species of insect, others will follow. Especially the predators, who will in turn rid you of mosquitos, gnats and aphids.
Our Grand Bug Hotel Plan
1/ Choose your material
2/ Select a site for your Bug Hotel
3/ Construction and building up the layers
4/ Adding a roof
1/ Choosing Materials
The main structure in this example requires two wooden pallets and six bricks as it’s quite a large hotel really. A smaller version can be seen in the RSPB video.
Pallets can be found for free on most construction sites, or larger shops, factories or warehouses or DIY shops when they have deliveries, just ask. They are normally quite grateful to get rid of them. When choosing the pallets however make sure they are marked with the letters ‘HT’ indicating they have been heat treated. Others may have been treated with chemicals of some kind which could easily be harmful to wildlife and leach chemicals into your ground.
You can gather materials from a number of sites and have quite an adventure doing so. A woodland walk is a great place to start. Be careful though not to disturb any natural bug and animal habitats when gathering leaves and sticks. Just choose lightly from a number of random areas and only take from the surface, don’t go digging.
Look also for a selection of the following
Strips of wood
Old Terracotta pots (preferably already broken)
Bricks with holes in
Hollow bamboo canes
And any other natural materials you can lay your hands on.
2/ Selecting a site for your hotel
The area you choose depends on what kind of bugs and small animals you want to attract.
* Dry level ground with plenty of sun to attract more solitary Bees.
* Damp shady areas for small toads, frogs and newts.
* A concealed semi-shaded area near the hedgerow to encourage hedgehogs.
Generally though, a quiet place away from the main vegetable plot and footpaths is a good all rounder for all sorts garden friends to call their home.
3/ Construction & Building up the Layers
All good building projects have strong foundations right? Well our bug hotel is no exception.
Foundations are there to stop your hotel from toppling over, the ground underneath will move as the result of the changing weather conditions throughout the year. I’m sure you wouldn’t want your bustling bug home to fall over if the ground got too muddy.
Don’t build it too far off the ground or some insects will have a hard time getting in. Unless of course you only want to attract flying insects. In which case a wall mounted bug hotel would suit perfectly, otherwise just leave a gap of few centimetres or so under the base.
How to begin your Bug Hotel
* Position the bricks or flat stones to support the corners and centre points of your hotel, add some straw or sticks inbetween to fill in the gaps. This also creates a little air flow and your first habitat for creepy crawlies.
* Cut the pallets in half and stack them on the bricks.
* Gather the materials into groups, all sticks, cardboard, dead wood, leaves etc
* Layer the materials into the gaps of the pallets. Just like filling shelves.
* Dry leaves and sticks are particularly good places for ladybirds to hang out, and they love to feast on aphids, helping to keep your veg plot pest free.
* Stack some broken pots or tiles on the ground to make bigger gaps, this will make cool dark damp conditions for frogs and toads, they will help keep your slug population in check. Higher up gaps will create dry dark spaces for spiders.
* Add coverings to the side or a smaller concealed box for Hedgehogs to hibernate in the winter months.
4/ Adding a Roof
Like all buildings it’s good to keep the inside protected from the rain, so a roof is needed.
To give our hotel a more natural wild look we have used natural materials for the roof, by layering fir tree clippings weighted down with logs and branches, a bit like a thatched roof.
Or you could use old tiles to make it really weather proof.
The more adventurous could make a living roof garden, a place where you can even grow plants and flowers to attract more insects.
The Completed Grand Bug Hotel
Giving Nature A Home
Other ways that you can help wildlife in your garden
There are many other ways to entice more wildlife into your garden without building from foraged materials, and you’d be helping to support wildlife in other ways as well.
The RSPB shop have a number of Bee hotels, Hedgehog homes and even Butterfly Feeding Kits for sale on their website, and you’d be helping a good cause.
Good luck with your bug hotel, and don’t forget ‘Keep it Green’.
None of the links in this article for the RSPB are affiliate links. All proceeds go to the RSPB.