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How kids can learn about nature the fun way with a bug hotel

Keep the little ones amused and educated with this fab summer project

By Hannah Stephenson

School holidays are upon us, so keep the kids amused by helping them create a stylish and useful bug house to attract beneficial insects to your garden, including spiders, lacewings and ladybirds.

Lacewing larvae and adult ladybirds and larvae will feast on aphids, while solitary bees may also hibernate in a bug box.

What you'll need

Any old wooden box or recycled wooden pallet will do - you'll need it to stand up on its end to accommodate beneficial insects and other wildlife. You could nail boxes together (end to end) to make bug towers, which could be nailed on to a post or left free-standing on the ground. Collect wood, bark, twigs, leaves, pine, larch or spruce and any other natural materials.

You can also use old terracotta roof tiles, bricks with holes in them and even holey old plant pots.

Lining the container

Use dead leaves to line the back of the box, preferably oak or beech, as they will form the primary living area for insects.

Fill it up

Pack materials into the front of the box. These could be anything from cut-off branches to segments of bamboo cane, pine cones and other solid garden materials. Either create a visible pattern at the front of the box or just fill it randomly, wedging it all together with dead leaves or moss, the RSPB advises.

Where to put it

Bugs prefer sheltered spots, so place your new bug-friendly hotel under hedging or close to wild areas in your garden, where there might be nettles, brambles or other wildlife-welcoming plants that will attract bugs into their new home. Make sure the box isn't in full sun, or everything will dry out - including the bugs.

Looking after your bugs

Give the boxes a good spray regularly in summer to keep them moist and give the wildlife a drink. Then sit back and see what creatures move in!

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