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Are you an insect lover? Here’s how to make a bug hotel

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Whether you like insects or not, it is essential to nature that they are encouraged.  Insects are both a primary and secondary decomposer.  We need the little critters to help dispose of waste and, without them, dead animals and plants would accumulate.  Insects are also an essential layer of the food web, and without them, apex predators would not be able to survive.

So, as well as relaxing in your teak garden chairs, you might also want to spend some time building a bug hotel.

What do you need?

You shouldn’t need to make special purchases to build your bug house.  It is likely that you have most of the materials around your home, shed or garage.

The materials you need:

  • Untreated timber
  • Hollow canes, or bamboo
  • Bits of other wood, branches that have fallen from trees, for instance
  • 5cm nails
  • Self-tapping screws

The tools you will need:

  • wood saw
  • screwdriver
  • hammer
  • drill
  • wood drill bit

You will also need about two hours of your time.

The step by step building instructions

 

Step 1: Measure out the sides, bottom and top of your box.  Use timber that is about 2cm thick.  The size of the sides and the depth of the box is up to your discretion.  If you are making a pitched roof, make sure you use a protractor to measure the 45 degrees angle needed.   If you are worried about measuring and fixing the roof, it is perfectly fine to leave the roof flat.

Step 2: Screw the pieces of wood together, remembering to leave the front open.  You can paint the outside of the box.  It is best to use weatherproof or external paint, to help your box survive the weather.

Step 3: Cut the bamboo to shorts lengths.  The lengths of the bamboo should match the depth of the box or be a little shorter.  It is a good idea to have different size holes and different length canes, to help attract various insects.  Fit the canes into the box.  It is essential to pack these in tightly.  You can use bits of branches to fill gaps, and you could even drill holes into these to encourage a different habitat.

Step 4: You can use the self-tapping screw to help attach your box to a tree or an upright of your fence.

Some added extras

You may wish to make the bug box into more of a feature of the garden.  It is possible for you to use slate for the roof.  You can create your pitched roof and then tap clout nails into three places in the slate.  You can then cover the gap at the top with roof flashing.

You can also stand your bug box on its wooden post, attaching the box before introducing the cane and branches.  You will need to drive the wooden post into the ground, screw the box to the post, and then fill up the open-faced box with canes and branches.

Some bonuses

First, your bug box will become a point of interest in your garden.  You can sit in your teak garden chair and watch the busy life of bugs come and go from the box.

Second, you will be helping the birds.  Many birds have come to rely on bug hotels for food during winter.  Tits and woodpeckers will prey on your bug house, using them as a source of food.  If you do not want your bugs eaten by the birds, then you can move the box indoors during the winter – in an unheated shed or your greenhouse.  You can then return your bug hotel to the garden in spring.  Alternatively, you may want to sit and watch the birds fly in and out, hunting their meal.

Summary

A bug hotel is a wonderful project for a lazy Sunday afternoon.  It is the sort of DIY experiment that can be done with children.  Young people are still curious about the world of bugs, and you could help them appreciate nature with this bug house.  Alternatively, just make a box to help the environment; it could be how you do your bit.

Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

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