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How to build a bug hotel

PUBLISHED: 15:44 12 September 2015 | UPDATED: 15:44 12 September 2015

Even ladybirds need a helping hand to fly home - build them a bug hotel

Even ladybirds need a helping hand to fly home - build them a bug hotel

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Kent Wildlife Trust shows you how to build a bug hotel to help both the wildlife and your garden

At this year’s splendid Kent County Show (see also pages 117-119), many of the hundreds of visitors to the Kent Wildlife Trust stand were drawn to and inspired by our feature bug hotel.

Your garden can be a magnet for wildlife and will benefit from a variety of minibeasts and creepy crawlies, so why not make it a five-star experience and build them a luxury hotel?

All it takes are a few off-cuts of timber or wooden pallets to form the main structure and your own wild imagination to furnish the rooms.

Insects are vital to the food chain and need our support. By building a bug hotel you will be increasing biodiversity in your garden, and you can build one as little or as large as you like to suit your own space – the critters will appreciate it all the same. It’s a great activity for the kids too and it’s easy, cheap and fun!

The best position for your hotel will be part sunny and part shady. Make sure you have picked a flat surface to start building up your framework. You can have as many layers as you wish.

Make sure your pallets are sturdy; you may want to secure them together. Ideally, the bottom pallet should be bigger and filled with leaves, as this can act as a hedgehog house.

Then it is simply a case of filling in the gaps. Most of the materials the Trust uses for insect hotels at its visitor centres and reserves are recycled and often donated by the likes of garden centres.

Materials to use

Here are a few suggestions for materials to use, and the creatures that they are most likely to attract:

 Dead wood and loose bark: good for beetles, woodlice, centipedes and spiders.

 Bamboo canes: great for solitary bees (mining and mason). Alternatively, you can drill holes into a log. You could even use an old hosepipe cut into sections.

 Broken pots or tiles: creates hidey holes for toads, and a place for bees.

 Straw and dry leaves: offer great habitat for hibernating animals, and ladybirds like to live in dry twigs and leaves. Ladybirds are also great at controlling aphids.

 Rolled-up corrugated cardboard placed in a plastic bottle to protect it from the rain. You’ll find Lacewings favour this habitat.

You can also create a green roof for your ‘hotel.’ Lining the top will protect the inside of the hotel by keeping it dry from rain, and then you can plant nectar-rich flowers to encourage the bees and butterflies. Remember to keep green roofs watered in summer or dry periods.

Now sit back and enjoy watching the myriad of guests checking in to your own luxury hotel.

And don’t forget that birds and hedgehogs, amphibians and reptiles will also benefit immensely from your endeavours!

If you want to try something smaller than a pallet structure, then there are plenty of options. Tying a handful of bamboo canes together, or cutting the top off a plastic bottle and filling with canes will provide a home for solitary bees.

Just hang it up against a sunny wall and watch the bees fill the ends of the canes with mud or leaves in the case of leaf-cutter bees.

Find out more

Why not send us a photograph of your bug hotel and we’ll feature the best efforts on our website? Email us at info@kentwildlife.org.uk

For a free leaflet, Building Insect Hotels, call 01622 662012 or go to kentwildlifetrust.org.uk

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