Bug Week: Garden Bug House


How to Make a Bug House

  • Gather a variety of natural or recycled objects that when fitted together create some nooks and crannies for bug buddies.
  • Find a container with one open side to arrange your collection of objects.
  • Place in a shaded spot in the garden or yard and wait.

Bug House TitleOur second endeavour for Bug Appreciation Week was building a bug house! I’m not going to lie, making this was probably the most terrifying experience of my adult life but I think the pay off will be worth it if our little insect summer home attracts some critters for D to observe.

We originally saw this idea over at Garden Therapy. Check out the link for tips on attracting specific insects to your garden like bees, ladybugs, beetles and spiders. We took a less directed and more toddler friendly approach, here is how we went about building our summer bug home…

Early in the morning we grabbed our buckets and capes (because everything is more fun in a cape) and headed out to a local park for a walk through the woods. We choose a park that I knew would have lots of different natural materials that we could gather. We had talked about the bug house before we left so D knew we were on the look out for things like tree bark, pine cones, small sticks and other things that bugs might like to live in.

Bug House 2

We spent about an hour wandering around and adding things to our bucket but you could easily gather what you needed in as little as 10 minutes around the house and yard. The local dollar or craft store also has a lot of good bug home building options, we selected mostly natural materials to fill our house but anything that creates nooks and crannies will do such as straws, coiled pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks, bottle caps etc.

Bug House 5
Once we got home we took inventory of our haul. D loves to sort so before we decided what would go into our house we sorted all our materials into groups…and here is where the terror comes in. In addition to our pine cones, sticks and tree bark our bucket contained two ants, one beetle, and a spider that was approximately the size of my head. I maintained total composure when we came across the beetle and the ants, we took out our magnifying glass and calmly watched them climb over this and that until we summoned husband to take the little ‘buggers’ (I’m so sorry, I couldn’t help it) outside to wait until the bug house was ready. The spider caught me off guard, I may have screamed, but took appropriate precautions to prevent it from happening again. We finished the sorting task with the help of BBQ tongs. I told D we were using them because they were helpful for sorting, and they were.

It was raining by the time we went to construct our house but I do not recommend this activity for indoors…who knows what else we let loose…*cue menacing dum dum dum*

Bug House 6

To hold the house together I picked up an unfinished wood box (these are often easy to find at your local dollar store, old clementine boxes would work perfectly as well) but then found an actual house shaped paper mache box and opted to use that instead. Unlike a wood box it will need to be weather proofed using a finish spray or acrylic sealer. We lined the back of the box with homemade playdough to help hold our bits and pieces in place. Dean put the house together sticking things in the playdough, I encouraged him to find things to fill in gaps to pack the house a little tighter. We added a toilet paper roll to hold the smaller items that D wanted to include (he was dead set on having dandelions in there ‘but mommy these flowers are wonderful’).

Bug House 3

The following picture shows what ended up being included in the house.

Sarson Bug Summer Cottage Bug Contents

When we were all finished we slapped on the roof and set it out in the garden. We will be checking back frequently for new residents.

Bug House 7

Prep: Once you have something to hold the contents of your house together you are good to go!

Activity Length: We did this activity in two stages, collecting the materials could take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. Putting the house together took about a half hour including the sorting which some children may not be interested in. For D, finding things to collect in his bucket was probably the most fun part of the activity (with the exception of the surprise visitors that hitched a ride in our bucket), however you could collect the materials before hand and just construct the house.

Sum up:

  • D really enjoyed all aspects of this activity, it was nice that he could burn of energy on the walk and then follow it with quiet time putting the house together…perfect morning lead up to a nap.
  • Cheap or free.
  • Provides lots of opportunity for exploration of natural materials and discussion about bugs, where they live, what they eat and their various jobs or purposes in a garden.
  • Finished house is a cute addition to the garden.

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