Creating a bug hotel
A bug hotel is a structure designed to encourage bugs and insects to shelter in and provide them with nesting areas and protection. It only needs to be a simple structure or be as creative as you like in your design; even a simple pile of leaves can suffice.
Perhaps incorporate a bird table or bird feeder too to encourage more of our feathered friends to the garden.
A bird bath, pond or even a simple water feature such as a small dish sunk into the ground is also beneficial as it can provide birds a place to bath and wildlife a place to drink.
Making the foundations
The basic structure of your bug hotel is made from wooden pallets, you can usually source recycled pallets from a local supermarket or a local working farm. The maximum number of pallets you should use to create your bug hotel is five, this makes the hotel large enough to attract an abundance of insect life whilst not being so heavy to sink into the ground after heavy rainfall.
Place the first pallet upside down on the level ground in your garden – this technique creates a large opening at the base that hedgehogs may choose to make home. Then place each pallet on top of the other, securing in place with large zip ties if you choose.
Filling the gaps
The final step in building the perfect resort for bugs in your garden is to fill the gaps between your wooden pallets with the rest of your materials, to create unique habitats for every insect you hope to find.
- Dead Wood is an increasingly rare habitat that provides a perfect patch for solitary bees to lay their eggs and hibernate. This wood can also attract other hibernating or breeding species such as beetles, woodlice and ladybirds.
- Bamboo stems or holes drilled into old logs are also perfect breeding sites for solitary bees.
- Stacked stones or old tiles produce a frost-free habitat, essential for amphibians to shelter during the colder months over the winter. Providing tiles gives cool and damp conditions.
- Straw and hay. These provide many opportunities for invertebrates to burrow in and find safe hibernation sites.
- Dry leaves mimic the forest floor, encouraging insects (or perhaps a hedgehog) to find a home in the base of your hotel.
- Loose bark is especially attractive to many species of spider and may also attract centipedes into your garden.
- Nectar-producing plants. Plant some nectar-rich flowers in and around your new bug hotel to provide food for butterflies and bees