Insect hotels: better beds for bugs.




Mother nature supplies a whole range of little gardeners to help our fruits and vegetables along, she provides us with a true legion of beneficial critters and crawlers to pollinate our crops and prey on pests. To make sure these little helpers feel welcome and at home in our gardens it can be beneficial to create some cosy spots for them. One way of doing that is to build them an insect hotel.


Insect or bug hotels are constructed from a variety of natural materials, each material shaped and sized to cater to the specific needs of a specific type of insect. Most insect hotels are constructed in several different sections, each section providing nesting facilities and offering shelter or refuge for a different type of insect.

With some help for our little friends

Insect hotels provide a much needed home to pollinators and pest controllers. Urbanization and a growing preference for tidy gardens, lawns and a lack of dead wood have decreased the habitat for the likes of wild bees, spiders and ladybugs. Insect hotels can harbor numerous beneficial insects as well as amphibians. Some may like a damp environment while others prefer to stay dry. Ladybugs like to hibernate during winter in piles of dry twigs and leaves, which you can provide for them in your insect hotel. The good news is it does not have to costs you an arm and a leg to build an insect hotel, just a little of your time and effort.

The bugs aren’t that fussy as long as they have got somewhere to bed down and lay their eggs, so you can go as fancy or as simple as you like. Just remember never use chemically treated or impregnated wood and lumber for your construction as these materials can be extremely harmful for insects as well as for your garden in general.

A proper habitat

Besides nesting sites there are a few additional resources that are beneficial for a healthy insect population in gardens. A source of water, over-wintering sites, and shelter from the wind are important in attracting a diversity of beneficial insects. Areas of bare ground are the preferred habitat for most native bees, areas with clay provide a resource for mud nest-building predatory wasps as well as “mud-puddling” butterflies. Brush and leaf piles, and bunch grasses are loved by over-wintering insects and trees or pieces of log with loose bark provide a wonderful winter shelter for butterflies and other insects.

Insect hotels occasionally require some maintenance as diseases or pests, such as mites, can become an issue after a few years. Some hotel builders prefer to completely change the filler materials every two years. Most pest and disease problems can be reduced by making small, disposable sections, so you can place new infill materials in the same location for insects that use the shelter year after year.