Homes for Heroes
Bug Hotels provide ideal homes for tiny wildlife heroes
Insects and mini-beasts are vital to the natural cycles that take place in the countryside and in our gardens. They pollinate the crops we eat and break down dead vegetation, returning nutrients to the soil.
Without bees and other insects we'd have no fruit or vegetables to eat and we'd be knee deep in dead leaves!
Why not build your own Bug Hotel!
Here's what you need...
- Some tubes
- Old wooden pallets
- Strips of wood
- Dry leaves
- Old terracotta pots
- Old roofing tiles
- Bricks, preferably those with holes through them
- Old logs
- Pine cones
- Hollow bamboo canes
- Dead hollow stems cut from shrubs and herbaceous plants
- A sheet of roofing felt
- Planks of wood
- Whatever else – preferably natural materials – you can find!
Step 1. Choose a suitable site.
It needs to be level and the ground firm.
You’ll get different residents depending on where you place your hotel, as some like cool, damp conditions and others (such as solitary bees) prefer the sun. If you have vegetable beds, keep it a good distance away from them.
Step 2. The basic structure.
You will need a strong, stable framework that's no more than a metre high!
Old wooden pallets are perfect for a large hotel as they’re sturdy and come with ready-made gaps. Start by laying some bricks on the ground as sturdy corners. Leave some spaces in between the bricks – try creating an H-shape. Add three or four layers of wooden pallets on top of your bricks. If you leave larger ends, you’re more likely to attract hedgehogs.
You can also make a smaller structure, depending on the wood and space you have.
Step 3. Fill the Gaps
The idea is to provide all sorts of different nooks and crannies, crevices, tunnels and cosy beds.
- dead wood and loose bark for creepy crawlies like beetles, centipedes, spiders and woodlice
- holes and small tubes (not plastic) for solitary bees made out of bamboo, reeds and drilled logs
- larger holes with stones and tiles, which provide the cool, damp conditions frogs and toads like – if you put it in the centre you’ll give them a frost-free place to spend the winter (they’ll help eat slugs)
- dry leaves, sticks or straw for ladybirds (they eat aphids) and other beetles and bugs
- corrugated cardboard for lacewings (their larvae eat aphids, too)
- dry leaves which mimic a natural forest floor
- you can even put a hedgehog box into the base of the hotel.
Step 4. Add a roof
Use old roof tiles or some old planks covered with roofing felt.
You could even give it a 'green' or 'brown' roof by putting a bit of rubble or gritty soil on top. Only plants that love dry conditions cope up there, but some wild flower seeds could arrive on the breeze and take root.
Surround your hotel with nectar-rich flowers – essential food for butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects.
Hollow canes or plant stems for solitary bees to lay their eggs.
The female lays an egg on a mass of pollen at the end of a tube, then seals the tube with mud or a leaf.
Solitary bees pollinate our plants.
Rolled up corrugated cardboard
A snug home for lacewings to sleep through the winter.
Lacewings eat aphids and other garden pests.
A hiding place for nature's recyclers.
Centipedes, beetles and woodlice munch through dead plants, returning nutrients to the soil.
A terracotta flowerpot
Place it in a warm, sheltered place in spring and it may be used by bumblebees to start a new nest.
Bumblebees pollinate lots of our fruit and vegetables.