The addition of a bug box to your garden is a great way to offer lodgings to your six-legged friends and suitable for even the smallest outside space. Bug boxes come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes and are also known as insect hotels, bug hotels and insect boxes (to name but a few). Many different designs can be bought online or from garden centres where it’s even possible to buy boxes designed for different insects. Butterfly boxes, for example, feature tall entrance holes to allow easy access for folded wings being held above the butterfly’s body. Bee boxes, which provide nesting sites for solitary bees and bumble bees, are also popular, as are designs for beneficial pest predators such as ladybirds and lacewings.
Whatever the design, the aim of a bug box is to provide shelter to its inhabitants, which many insects need when nesting or retreating from the cold during the winter (which scientists call ‘over-wintering’). As long as you keep this in mind you could save £££s by building your own bug box, which should be just as cosy for its insect inhabitants as those available in the shops. Even a plant pot – or old plastic bottle with the top cut off – placed on its side and filled with twigs, pine cones, straw, leaves or pieces of bamboo (or any combination of these and many other materials) should prove attractive to a range of insects. A simple bee ‘box’ is also easily made by drilling holes of varying sizes into a wooden log.
For those who would like to have a go at box building, the internet is a great place for design ideas. Amongst others, Gardeners World provides a good guide to bug box construction, as do the BBC. More information on boxes designed specifically with different insects in mind can be found on Wikipedia.
Whichever type of bug box you decide to build, remember to place your finished project in a sheltered spot, preferably in sun or partial shade. Another good tip is to make sure your box is well protected from the elements so that its inhabitants stay nice and dry when it rains.
For those with more space at their disposal, a larger version of a bug box – the mini-beast mansion – may be worth considering.