The estimated 24 million private gardens in Britain are thought to cover an area bigger than all of our national nature reserves combined. But many newer properties simply don’t have all the natural nooks and crannies that our insects need. And pollinating insects like bees are vital to the survival of many plant species. So even if your garden is small, it can be an important link to the countryside, and offer a much needed home for wildlife.
Our friends at the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust have been checking out the bug hotels created by children at RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival. Here are their ideas on how you can create your own at home. A perfect project to keep children busy in the garden this summer…
Walking round Hampton Court Flower Show, it was cheering to see that today’s youngsters are definitely getting the garden bug – in more ways than one! Schools’ insect hotels were certainly drawing the crowds. The ingenuity which had gone into the construction was admirable and every house was certainly different. The basic principle was the same; to build a shelter for insects in order to improve the biodiversity of the garden.
How to create your own bug home
- Start with a box frame filled with different layers of material. Kebur pallets are ideal (our yard usually has a good supply that you can pick up for free)
- Cover it with a waterproof roof
- Create insect holes from objects you have at home. Whatever you use, one end has to be sealed. The young architects at Hampton Court were experts in recycling all sorts of found objects, using hollow stems or bamboo canes cut into shorter lengths to attract solitary bees. Some had used the holes of ready-made engineering bricks, others wood blocks with drilled holes.
- Bits of bark or piles of tiles are great to provide crevices for beetles, wood lice, earwigs, spiders and centipedes. Straw and cardboard will attract lacewings and ladybirds. To really impress, the ultimate home might even have a green roof!
- Place your insect home in a sunny spot
- The only limit is your imagination. We love this home (pictured above) in the shape of a giant mushroom!
- You can always go the whole hog as well, like this integrated hedgehog house (below) with a tunnel leading to an inner chamber lined with leaves.
Look after your garden insects
- Don’t forget to clean out your bug home to prevent the build up of parasites (as recommended by the Beekeepers Association and entomologists)
- Also, remember that your insects will need a safe supply of pollinator-friendly plants with no pesticides.
Need more inspiration?
If you feel inspired, there are plenty of ideas on how to make homes for insects. This video shows the Hilton of bug hotels. Adapt the ideas to fit your garden.