Make a bug hotel
Attract bugs to your garden using things from your local environment.
Bugs are important for biodiversity- they pollinate flowers, create compost, eat pests and are food for the hedgehogs and frogs. This transparent bug hotel will provide a shelter where you can see what the bugs are up to!
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Collect your natural materials. You could collect these from your garden, a park or a local woods. As you are looking to attract local mini beasts and insects into your garden, your materials need to be from the same local environment.
Take the label off your bottle. Use your scissors to cut off the top and bottom of your bottle and put them in your recycling bin. Cut the remaining tube in half.
Cut about a metre of string and tie it around the centre of your tube.
Stuff your tube with your natural materials. Try to get sticks and twigs evenly balanced, with the same amount coming out of each end of the tube.
Keep stuffing your tube until it is completely full and nothing moves when you move it or pick it up.
Use the string to hang you bug hotel outside. A warm, dry, sheltered place is best for bugs. You could hang it in a bush or tree, attach it to a window box or put in somewhere on the ground. As your hotel is transparent, you should be able to see some of the bugs in there.
Which creatures do you think you will attract to your garden?
You could check your bug hotel on a regular basis, without disturbing it. You should be able to see the mini beasts through the transparent plastic.
Entomologists identify the insects they find. The Woodland Trust has a lovely basic mini beast identification sheet you can download here.
Rosie from Scotswood Community Garden in Newcastle has created some fantastic information pages here to tell you more about the mini beasts you may spot.
Mini beasts need safe spaces to shelter, hide from predators and raise their young. As many of their natural habitats are being destroyed to make way for human buildings, roads and farmland or by humans replacing grass and vegetation with plastic grass and paving, mini beasts are increasingly at a loss for places to nest and hibernate.
By choosing or finding different materials for your bug hotel, you can attract different types of mini beasts.
Ladybirds and lacewings like to crawl into crevices. You can attract them with wood shavings, pinecones, twigs and dry leaves.
Bees like tube shapes. You can attract them with hollow bamboo or by drilling holes into wood.
Woodlice, beetles and centipedes like damp, dark places to live, so you can attract them with rotten wood or by building a log pile.
Remember, bugs are also food!
Birds, amphibians, reptiles, spiders and mammals all eat mini beasts. Insects and bugs are a high protein food. Your bug hotel may attract mammals such as hedgehogs, moles and shrews to your garden or birds such as blue tits, robins and sparrows.
20 minutes or so.
Age 3 and up.
You know your children better than anyone, and you should judge whether they’re ready for this activity. You might want to think in particular about:
Entomologists are patient and observant as they study insects and their relationships with other animals, environments and human beings. They are creative when finding new ways to use insects pollinate crops and to protect crops, trees, wildlife, and livestock from pests.
An insect has 3 pairs of legs, a three part body made up of the head , thorax and abdomen and has two pairs of wings (usually). Bees, beetles, flies, butterflies and moths are examples of insects.
This is why we call small creatures bugs or mini beasts. A bug or minibeast is simply a small animal. Spiders, snails, slugs, beetles, centipedes, worms, earwigs, caterpillars… are all what we would call mini beasts, although some of these are insects too.
Your observations are valuable! Every observation can contribute to biodiversity science, from the rarest butterfly to the most common backyard weed. iNaturalist share your findings with scientific data storage facilities like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use your data. All you have to do is observe, take a photo and upload it here.