Build a bug hotel they said. It will be fun they said. And they were right! We were recently assigned the project to build a bug hotel from recycled materials by my daughter’s school. It’s something I was keen to do for a while but then I get put off by so many of those perfect looking bug hotels you see on Pinterest. Ours is not one of those, but it turned out to be a pretty awesome Bug Hotel nonetheless. We decided to use some leftover pallets and some of the plastic bottles from our every growing recycling bin. This is our DIY bug hotel using plastic bottles and wooden pallets.

a bug hotel from recycled materials

What is a Bug Hotel?

Also called an insect house, or an insect hotel, a bug hotel is basically a structure made of sticks and plants all packed in together to resemble a house that insects and bugs can then make their own. With lots of little crevices for them to make their temporary home. It’s also a really great way to encourage diversity and wildlife into your garden or park.

We have seen a number of bug hotels. There’s a gorgeous one outside the library of York Minster Learning in York. We also saw one at the Chester Zoo and even a few at one of our local parks. Here are a few photos of those.

Of course, if you find any bugs that are pests, rather than ones that are healthy for the local area, you should always contact a professional exterminator such as for a professional quotation to deal with any problems you might have.

What Materials Should You Use To Build Your Bug Hotel from recycled materials?

When considering what materials you should use to build your bug hotel, the list is endless really. A number of the perfect looking ones you may have seen on Pinterest are only made from natural products. However, I much prefer the idea of using recycled materials. Instead of the plastic bottles going to landfills and causing harm to wildlife, we’re using them to create something that can actually benefit wildlife.

For our DIY bug hotel from recycled materials we used the following materials:

  • Old wooden pallets that were going to be recycled anyway
  • Plastic bottles (2l soda bottles and plastic milk bottles)
  • sticks, twigs, and leaves that were taken from the undergrowth of where the bug hotel was going to be left
  • nails, a hammer, and a drill (maybe)
  • roof sealant leftover from when we had to reseal our garden shed roof
  • a cardboard egg carton

For more ideas on recycling on a budget, and how to live a more sustainable life without blowing the budget, check out this post I wrote a while ago.

Let’s build a Bug Hotel!

Firstly, we created the base layer by cutting one of the pallets. We cut it to the size we wanted the finished hotel for bugs to be. We then started layering in the 2l plastic bottles. I had already washed them out and cut the tops off them, and in some cases the bottom too. We then stuffed them with sticks and twigs. We also pierced the sides of the plastic bottles to aid ventilation.

When we were done we added another layer of wooden planks on top to hold it all into place.

We then added a layer of the waterproofing roof sealant to separate that level from the next.

For the second storey of the bug hotel, we decided to make the entrance to this storey on the opposite side to the layer below. We then packed in the milk bottles stuffed with foliage etc too. As with the soda bottles, these had also been washed out and had the tops cut off. We also punctured these with extra breathing holes to encourage airflow. Again, we also sealed this layer with more roofing sealant.

Bug Hotel with milk bottles

For the top layer, we put a slanted roof on it and then shoved more plastic bottles and sticks and foliage into the area under the slanted roof.

I think it turned out pretty well. What do you think?

But Hotel from recycled materials

Top Tips For Building A Bug Hotel from recycled materials

  1. Make sure you build it close to where the final resting place will be or at least have a clear way of getting it there. (It can get a bit heavy!)
  2. Take care when using any tools
  3. Wash out any recycled plastics you plan to use and try to make sure there are no sharp edges if you do cut the tops off them.
  4. Let your imagination run wild, and let the kids take the lead when it comes to interior decorating of your bug hotel.

Please share pictures of your bug hotels if you do decide to make one. This is definitely one of those lockdown homeschool crafts activities I have enjoyed. They are great fun, and a really good family bonding activity.

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