Making a Bug Hotel

If I was a bug, I’d move in here in a flash of eager iridescence.

Creating a habitat for insects and mini-beasts is a great project for children, opening opportunities to talk about the sort of environments preferred by creepy, crawly, fluttery little critters. It needn't be an expensive undertaking - mini-beasts will feel right at home in the natural materials you can forage from your garden or on a walk, plus a few perfectly shaped, reused items such as bricks, or a wooden pallet to make a frame.

Sticks, leaves, pine cones, pots, straw, rotten wood, bark - all make wonderful crevices, nooks and crannies that a wide variety of mini-beasts will remarkably quickly discover and thank you for. Children will love the prospect of designing the structure and helping to gather and add the various different materials. If you’re handy with a hammer, you could pass down your skills and be as ambitious as the maker of this splendid hotel - which in my view would look fabulous in any garden or allotment.

Choose a relatively sheltered site - against a wall or fence, or perhaps under a tree. The ground should be flat - as with any sensible construction project - especially if you’re planning a posh pad with multiple levels. Reclaiming old materials is a great lesson for kids - broken terracotta pots, old bits of bamboo cane (I’ve even seen an old welly boot filled with straw used with great panache). Sawing, hammering nails, measuring lengths - even young children can wield tools when supervised properly (and show me a child who doesn’t relish that chance) - it’s basically a perfect project for the whole family to get involved in.

Once built, the shelter will age gracefully and the bugs will come. Armed with a magnifying glass, a bug pot and an identification book (or indeed our fabulous Entomology Kit), there will be whoops of delight as the proud carpenter spots evidence of new visitors or residents - followed by nods of deep bug-respect, when they learn how beneficial those ingenious and extraordinary little wrigglers are to the garden, the animal and bird population and to everyone on the planet.

That’s got to be a project worth undertaking.