Have you ever seen a bug hotel? Perhaps you’ve never even heard of such a thing. Well, bug hotels are exactly as they sound; a place for bugs or insects to stay!
You might wonder what they’re for. After all, we’ve never heard of insects needing a luxury crash pad. As it turns out, there are many benefits to it. Making a bug hotel encourages biodiversity in the garden. This helps increase ecosystem productivity, which has tons of benefits; however, that is a different topic altogether.
In this article, we will talk about how to make a bug hotel, its costs and benefits!
Why Should You Build A Bug Hotel, And What Are Their Benefits?
Just because they are bugs, doesn’t mean they are bad. Insects and bugs are only considered pests when they are destructive or cause harm towards us. Thus, if you create a bug hotel, here is a list of the benefits you can expect from it:
- They allow insects to hibernate
- They prey on pests around your area
- Bug hotels create a food source for birds
- Parasitizing pest insects
- Increase ecosystem productivity by promoting biodiversity in the garden
- If nothing else, they make lovely garden art pieces and are an educational and therapeutic learning experiment for adults and kids.
Lastly, they help pollinate plants. Thus, if you have a pollinator or butterfly garden, the bug hotel will add more value.
How To Make A Bug Hotel
Making a bug hotel shouldn’t cost much. You can use recycled materials like straws, sticks, broken tiles, bricks, bottles, and old pieces of wood. Here is an abridged and concise guide on which material attracts what kind of insect or bug:
- Deadwood – beetles and their larvae
- Canes, hollow stems, and holes (bamboo) – Bees
- Stone and tiles – frogs and newts
- Dry leaves – Ladybirds
- Bark and rotting wood – beetles, centipedes, spiders, and woodlice
Step 1: Decide on these two things
- The type of material you will use.
- This will depend on what insect or bug you want to attract. You may use multiple.
- How large do you want the bug hotel to be and where you are going to put it.
- This will depend on how much space you have in your lot and how much time you are willing to put into making and maintaining the bug hotel.
Suggestion: If you have a garden wall, they are one of the best places to hang a bug hotel. However, if you are still in the process of building a garden wall, this is the best time to consider these two bug hotel ideas:
- Consider leaving crevices for you to insert the aforementioned materials within the walls.
- Consider constructing the bug hotel within the wall itself (see image below).
These ideas will save you time, money, and effort if you have not finished building your garden wall yet.
Just because they don’t cost a lot, does not mean they can’t be beautiful. Since building the bug hotel didn’t cost tons of money, decorating them shouldn’t as well. You can paint the hotel; preferably in bright colours as they attract bugs and insects. You can use ornaments and even surround the hotel with free or cheap garden plants. Plant flowers that are rich in nectar around the garden to add beauty while also attracting more insects and bugs.
Step 2: The materials
Gather the needed materials:
- Screwdriver and screws
- Hammer and tacks
- Pruners and a drill
- Strings or any viable substitute (should you want to hang the hotel)
- Wood (material) of choice
- Wood shingles to serve as roof tiles
- Strong strings plus a plank of wood wide enough to form a backplate to your hotel
Ideally, you will want to use untreated wood to avoid harming the insects.
Step 3: The structure
Consider the type of garden you have or are planning to build. Aesthetic-wise, the structure and appearance of a typical bug hotel is that of a vintage film. This is because you are using recyclables and wood. Thus, the look and vibe of modern gardens, which are identified by its unique usage of functionality, form, and crisp geometric lines, may not blend well with the bug hotel. However, if that is fine with you, then begin by making the four walls of your bug hotel.
The length, width, height, and even shape is entirely up to you. There are no inherent benefits in creating a square-shaped hotel over a circular one. In terms of size, the bigger the hotel, the more visitors and occupants you can expect. Thus, the effort to create and maintain the hotel is also entirely up to your capacity.
Break out the drill as you may need to make a pilot hole for each screw before securing it into place. Join up the four walls so that one end overlaps the other. With the walls complete, attach the backplate to create a snug seal. You can mark the footprints of the walls onto the plate as a guide before screwing them in.
Next, the roof shingles. Hammer the tacks in a way that it would overlap the shingles to help rain to run off and keep the inside of the hotel dry. Should you wish, you may now paint the hotel with non-toxic paint or wood stain to give a subtle finish. Before continuing, make sure the paint has dried fully.
If you want to hang your bug hotel, screw in another piece of wood to serve as a backplate. Drill two holes at the top, run a string or rope through them and form a knot. Hang them in a dry, sheltered place where they can receive the full sun or dappled shade. Placing them in and among trees and shrubs is ideal.
You may also hammer your hotel into the eaves of a garden shed or outbuilding. If you are in an area where termites are a problem, place your bug hotel well away from any buildings and keep it clear of the ground.
Pro tip: If you want to attract bees but do not have bamboos and the like, just take a solid block or cube of wood, drill multiple holes in it, attach a backplate and hang it or leave it somewhere. Just make sure not to drill all the way through the wood. It is easy, efficient, and does not consume time at all!
Step 4: Filling the bug hotel / Creating divisions
Once you have completed the structure, fill it with the materials of choice. Make sure you use enough materials to create a snug fit. Refer to the brief guide above to know which type of material attracts what kind of insect or bug. Should you want to attract a variety of insects, we suggest that you create divisions within your bug hotel using small pieces of wood; one section dedicated for each material.
What To Put In Your Bug Hotel
Here’s a quick list of materials you can put in the bug hotel:
- Pine cones
- Pieces of bark
- Dried leaves
- Rotting wood
- Logs and twigs
- Extra turf rolls
- Hollow plant stems
- Hay and straw
Bug Hotel Ideas
Here are some bug hotel ideas you can take inspiration from:
Making A Bug Hotel is Easy!
As we have learned, it is easy to make a safe and secure habitat for beneficial bugs to thrive.
Have you built your own bug hotel before? Or have you ever seen one during your travels? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear about all the people and places that are supporting insects.