We’ve been inspired by meeting this majestic female stag beetle in the LitteLife HQ garden this week. The Little Explorers thought it would be brilliant to attract more insects so we set about building a Bug Hotel. Here’s how…
Did you know there could be up to 2,000 species of invertebrate in your garden? These extraordinary creatures are needed to pollinate our crops, and to keep garden pests at bay.
Our Little Explorers chose to build a home with areas designed for bees, beetles and ladybirds, and we suggested Lacewings too for their supreme aphid-munching skills!
It didn’t cost us a penny to make our bug hotel using recycled bits and bobs we found around the house and garden.
You will need...
Start by making the bee ‘wing’ of the hotel. Cut the top off your plastic bottle and use secateurs or a small hacksaw to cut hollow bamboo sticks to fit the bottle. Ask for help from your Little Explorers to fit the sticks into the bottle tightly so they don’t roll around. If you leave this in a tree in a sunny but sheltered spot you’ll be providing solitary bees with the perfect nesting habitat. You can hang this separately or integrate it into the main hotel, as we did.
Now it’s time to create a space for those stunning wood-boring stag beetles. It can be tricky to find dead wood because we are too keen to tidy up gardens and civic spaces, but it’s vital for beetle larvae and also fungi. Gather into a bundle and slot it into position. Woodlice and centipedes will appreciate it too.
Next, make a waterproof home for Lacewings. Cut corrugated cardboard into sheets and roll it tightly into tubes, then pack into another plastic bottle. This will create tiny tunnels which are perfect for many mini beasts, including the beautiful and very useful Lacewing. Lacewings and their larvae eat phenomenal amounts of aphids.
Ladybirds and their larvae also have a voracious appetite for aphids. They like to nest in the hidden nooks and crannies on pine cones so try tying a load together with string to create the perfect shady spot.
Pack out any gaps with hay to give invertebrates a place to hibernate when winter comes. Hang the hotel at a slight backward tilt around 2m from the ground.
Solitary bees lay their eggs on top of a heap of pollen at the end of a hollow tube. They then seal the end using mud or leaves. Keep checking the ends of your bamboo sticks (from a distance!) to see if there might be new life developing inside.