Gardening with Children

Family Zone

Build a Bug Hotel

Date Posted: 15 July 2016



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Make a home for Insects

In Britain there are over 24,000 known species of insect, you may have hundreds of species living in your garden, insects can be grouped into the following orders:

Bees, Ants and Wasps – The most well-known insects in this group are Hornets, Honeybees, Common Wasps and Wood Ants with over 6,500 different species in Britain; these include over 250 species of Bee and 36 species of ants.

Butterflies and Moths – Beautiful, colourful and fragile their wings are covered with tiny scales which are pigmented or iridescent and create their vibrant colours and patterns. There are about 50-60 species of Butterflies and over 2,500 species of Moth in Britain, most Moths are nocturnal but some species fly during the day.

Dragonflies and Damselflies – Dragonflies hold their wings horizontally at right-angles to their body when at rest, Damselflies hold their wings vertically above their body, there are 36 species of Dragonflies and 21 species of dragonflies in Britain.

Lacewings – There are 18 species that live in Britain the most well-known is the Common Green Lacewing, all have long antennae, large golden eyes and iridescent finely veined wings with a lace-like appearance.

Silverfish and Firebrats – Flightless insects with a flat tapered body covered in scales, Firebrats live in warm dry habitats, Silverfish in humid, damp habitats in buildings and can squeeze into the smallest space.

True bugs – These include Plant-bugs, bed-bugs, water-boatman, aphids and leafhoppers.

Beetles – With over 400,000 known species worldwide they are the most diverse group of animals; in the UK we have 4,000 species, one of our favourites is the Ladybird the commonest being the Seven-Spot Ladybird although in Britain there are 45 other species.

Crickets and Grasshoppers – Grasshoppers live in grassland there are 11 species in Britain, the Oak Bush cricket can be found in woodlands, hedgerows, gardens and parks.

Earwigs – There are 7 species of earwig in Britain, they can be found under plant pots, logs and stones and are quite easy to recognise with their pair of pincers at the tail end.

Mayflies – Their nymphs live in freshwater and emerge in large groups over the water, there are over 50 species in Britain.

Stoneflies – For most of their life they live in fast flowing fresh water as nymphs, after emerging from the water the adult fly only lives for 2/3 weeks, there are over 30 species in Britain.

True flies – Mosquitoes, Crane flies, Midges, Horseflies, Bluebottles and Houseflies all have a single pair of wings and most have large eyes, there are over 6,000 species in Britain.

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How to build a Bug Hotel

One of the easiest ways to build a Bug Hotel is to stack wooden pallets on top of each other (nailing them together) alternatively you could use an old chest of drawers, removing the front of each drawer or if you want to make an impression and have a willing ‘’ create a bespoke unit. Make sure that the structure is stable and will not fall over in windy weather, position your Bug Hotel on level, firm ground out of the way in a quiet, sheltered area of the garden in partial sunlight or light shade.

If you are using pallets sit them on bricks to raise them off the ground to leave a gap suitable for a hedgehog to make a nest.

To encourage as many species of creatures as possible fill the gaps/compartments with lots of different materials:

Natural materials – Pine cones, twigs, straw, grass, leaves, pieces of bark, bamboo canes, hollow plant stems (sunflower), moss, woodchip, sand, soil, small logs with holes drilled in them

Manmade materials – clay/plastic drainpipes and plant pots (fill with straw/grass/bamboo canes), roofing tiles, old bricks with holes in, cardboard tubes, rolled up corrugated cardboard, shredded paper.

When you have filled in all the nooks and crannies add a roof to keep the contents dry, use tiles/slates, wooden boards or roofing felt.

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Grow nectar rich plants and wildflowers around your Bug Hotel, this will help it to blend in with its surroundings and encourage the insects.

All the photographs on this page were taken by Sylvia in a private garden owned by a vineyard whilst on holiday in South Africa, it is an impressive Bug Hotel yet as you can see the ‘filling in’ materials are the same as what we would use in this country.

Love your environment – Love your Insects



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