In the latest of our How to … series of articles – in which we look at ways of making your gardens more attractive to nature – Langdyke volunteer Malcolm Holley explains how to build simple structures out of rubbish to attract insects to your wildlife garden …
There are many ways to make homes for bugs like woodlice, centipedes, millipedes, spiders and so on.
You can go for a really deluxe version and create a complex bug hotel. But there a simpler ways of building one as well.
Idea 1: Just use some old wood
- Use old timber which has not been treated with chemicals and/or old logs and tree stumps.
- Find a place in the shade but where it can get wet.
- Stack the wood in a pile so that it will not topple over.
To inspect, carefully remove logs to identify the bugs, then replace the wood carefully.
Idea 2: Use old bricks
A stack of bricks could attract lots of bugs and spiders which prey on these.
Get some old bricks, preferably those with recesses or holes through them. If they have broken edges, so much the better as these create passage ways in the pile.
- Stack them face down in a pile on a flat piece of ground.
- Stack each layer in a different direction so they bind safely together and will not topple over.
Some bees, like mason bees and leaf cutting bees, do not live in colonies but make individual nests for their eggs. They prefer old masonry and walls or holes in wood.
Idea 3: Make a simple bee house
- Cut a 6 inch tube from and old piece of drain pipe,
- Pass a strong piece of twine or string through the tube and tie it into a loop to hang up the bee house.
- Cut old garden canes into 6 inch lengths and pack them into the tube. Hammer in pieces of split cane to wedge the canes in tightly.
- Hang your bee house in a sunny place on a wall or shed.
You can tell when the bees are using your bee house as they seal the holes with leaves to protect the eggs and young bees.
Idea 4: Use an old log
Another way to attract these bees is as follows:
- Take an old log or post about a foot long.
- Drill lots of holes of different sizes into it.
- Hang it up on a wall or shed and watch.
Idea 5: Bigger could be best
More complex bug hotels can be made from 4 pallets to attract a whole range of bugs and maybe reptiles. The hotel can be made in layers with different types of materials in each layer to attract different creatures as follows:
Select a flat piece of ground. Place a brick in each corner where the bottom pallet will go. Make sure the pallet will sit on the bricks without rocking.
- Remove the pallet and place old bricks, broken tiles and plant pots in the area between the bricks. This will be the “Basement” and will attract all types of bugs that like damp places and maybe reptiles like frogs or newts.
- Place the pallet on the corner bricks with the top of the pallet facing down like a floor to make the “first floor”. Fill this with old and rotten wood and branches, the more decayed the better. This will attract wood lice, beetles , spiders.
- Place the second pallet face down on top of the first. Fill this with old garden canes and other sticks and branches. The canes might attract leaf cutting bees and the sticks could attract all sorts of beetles.
- Place the third pallet on top of the second floor and fill this with all sorts of plant and leaf litter. This will attract earwigs, centipedes, millipedes and beetles.
- Place the last pallet on top of the third floor and fill this with fir cones and dry sticks. It is meant to be a place where insects can spend the winter.
- Get some old garden compost/fertiliser bags and tack these on top to make a roof.
As an option, you can place clods of earth on top to anchor the plastic and provide another habitat for insects and beetles.
Whichever method you use your bug hotel will be ready for your first guests.
The bug hotel in our main picture is in the garden of Caroline Cade in the Dogsthorpe area of Peterborough.