In natural habitats there are endless nooks and crannies where mini-beasts, properly known as invertebrates, can shelter. Crevices in bark, holes in dead wood, piles of fallen leaves, gaps between rocks, hollow plant stems, spaces in dead logs – all these can provide a home for the myriad small creatures that need somewhere to nest or to escape from predators or bad weather. Established gardens can also provide lots of hiding places, but gardeners often like to tidy away the debris where invertebrates might live.
Schools may feel pressure to keep their plots tidy and in a new garden, or one that consists of hard surfaces, the amount of natural cover will be limited. We can help provide more homes by creating bug hotels, which are often interesting and attractive creations in their own right.
The best bug hotels have lots of small spaces in different shapes and sizes and made from different materials. Ideally some should be nice and dry inside, and others a bit dampish. Bug hotels are generally made from reclaimed materials, or natural objects, which reduces cost, helps them blend in with their surroundings and is probably more attractive to the mini-beast guests.
Gather all the materials you may require. If working with younger pupils ask the adults to pile the pallets or materials into a safe tower before the pupils arrive.
What might check in to your bug hotel? A surprisingly wide variety of invertebrates including nesting mason bees and leaf cutter bees, woodlice hiding from the sun – and woodlice spiders hunting woodlice, earwigs hiding their babies from predators, ladybirds and lacewings hibernating over winter, beetle larvae feeding on the dead wood, funnel web spiders and centipedes storing their prey.
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