It's a bug's life!
Creating a bug hotel is a great way to keep children occupied, and provides a great learning opportunity as well as being great for the environment. It’s a great way to get children away from screens and reconnect with nature, and teaches them about animal habitats and how to care for the environment. It is an easy project suitable for children of a range of ages.
Bug Hotels can be created from many items that can be found in the garden, including twigs, leaves, old bricks and stones, and even bits of old pallets or small pieces of wood that you might have in the garage.
Collecting materials Get the children to search around the garden for things such as twigs, leaves, pieces of bark, stones and bits of brick or rubble. Maybe have a look in the garage to see if there’s anything suitable lurking in there. In order to attract the widest number of bugs to your hotel, you will need a mixture of materials since some bugs like tiny holes to crawl into whilst others like to visit softer more spacious areas which are created by the spaces within the leaves and twigs. Using larger pieces of wood or broken plant pots can give your bug hotel some height as well as darkness and shade which is often preferable for the bugs you are trying to attract.
Find the location
bug hotels are best located in a quiet area of the garden sheltered from bad weather where the bugs will be able to live undisturbed. Many insects feel safer if they are in the dark, so locating your bug hotel in one of the darker corners of your garden is a good move.
Build your hotel
In order to attract the widest number of different bugs, it is important to build your hotel in a way that provides a number of differently sized gaps between the items you have found in order to give them a choice of places to rest. If you are lucky enough to have logs available, including these within your hotel can provide space for birds and hedgehogs to visit in order to find tiny grubs to eat. If you can include medium to large-sized gaps between stones and tiles you are including within your bug hotel, this may attract frogs and toads as they like a cool damp environment. If you have moss available you may also include that along with the leaves as it will provide a nice soft place for the bugs to live. In the spring, birds may take the moss for their nests. To create the bug hotel, just pile the materials that you have found into a pleasing shape, ensuring you have left gaps as detailed above. The bug hotel will need a roof, and this is where adults may need to get involved in order to craft something suitable. However, if your bug hotel is quite small, you may be able to use a found item from the garage or house to form the roof and just place it on top of the pile of found items from which you have created your hotel.
Sit and wait
Now that your hotel is complete, a matter of waiting patiently for your guests to arrive. As the seasons change, different insects and garden creatures will visit, depending on whether they are hibernating or looking for food. A bug hotel is a fascinating thing to watch throughout the seasons and will provide your child with the opportunity to observe and study insects and animals at close quarters.