Do it yourself: Insect hotel

There are lots of insects that are not really very popular but we do need them in the garden. Why? Because they pollinate our plants, trees and flowers and many are also a fabulous, natural pest control.


The natural nesting sites of many varieties of insects are under threat so it’s a good thing if humans can help them out. You can do this by building an insect hotel. An insect hotel is the perfect shelter and nesting place for various useful insects and you can buy them ready-made but you could also make one yourself.

You could make a basic insect hotel with an easily put together wooden bird box filled with twigs and straw. Drill holes in the side, various sizes and stuff them with broken canes, bramble twigs and/or reed stems. Make it all as big as you like. For a large insect hotel you could pile two or three wooden pallets, with old bricks and roof tiles, interspersed with sticks and twigs and reed.

A DIY insect hotel made from wood, brick, straw and twigs.

Who uses an insect hotel?

Ladybirds
Make a room for ladybirds. These are fabulous pest control because they eat greenfly and other pests. Fill your insect hotel with a bit of wheat straw and ladybirds will creep in there from mid-September, and spend the winter there until April.

Butterflies
Of course the insects we always like to see in the garden are butterflies but our little fluttery friends need a little shelter, especially on cold, wet days. The butterfly room should be easily accessible in your insect hotel – make wide slits for access – they need to get their wings through without damaging them. Add a handful of twigs for them to hang on to in their ‘room’. Butterflies help pollinate the plants in our gardens.

Bees
Of course bees are also useful pollinators in the garden. Bees often use a hollow stem for shelter so ensure lots of choice of these in your insect hotel. There should be a choice of 2-4 mm as well as 3-7 mm. A log, or a flat ‘slice’ of a tree, drilled with various sized holes is very popular with bees too.

 

Where to stand your insect hotel  

An insect hotel needs a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden. Smaller ones can be fastened to a sturdy pole or to the fencing.         

Buying an insect hotel

You can buy ready-made insect hotels in various shapes and sizes, for butterflies, bees, ladybirds, flies and lots of other insects.