This outdoor activity for kids was inspired by a question from one of our Little Sparks several years ago and we’ve been making insect hotels in a wild part of the garden every year since! That question was, ‘Where do butteflies go when it rains?’ Well the answer is they seek shelter as best they can, hiding under leaves and stones or clinging to long grass. Heavy rain can batter and damage their wings.
Here at Raising Sparks we like to help out our insect friends and in return we have lots of interesting wildlife to study and a healthy, thriving organic garden!
You needn’t restrict yourself to gardens of course, this activity can be adapted for your playground or campsite and a good long walk to collect materials is definitely a good idea. Little Sparks will not only get plenty of outdoor exercise running back and forth with their finds, but will also be able to put their construction and problem solving skills to the test.
How to make your insect hotel:
Firstly you need to collect together your materials. These will vary slightly depending on what your local environment has to offer but all of the following are good: sticks of all different lengths, all sorts of stones, cones, reeds, straw, hay, grass clippings, moss and even rubble such as broken bricks and crocks all have a role to play.
Find a suitable site for your insect hotel, somewhere out of the way is best and if it is surrounded by long grass and wild flowers all the better! If you have a packet of wild flower seeds why not sow them around your insect hotel to advertise vacancies to passing insects? Use the tallest sticks to make a teepee, you need at least three but more are fine! Tie them at the top using either natural string, wild clematis or honeysuckle or thin willow whips. Start by building in the middle with sticks and stones, cones provide excellent hiding spaces, and then start padding your insect hotel out with moss and straw. We use reeds because we live near a canal that’s full of them! Place sticks horizontally to your uprights to hold things in place.
Our insect hotels tend to last about two seasons before they collapse and ultimately find their way to the compost heap. We don’t move them until spring so as not to disturb any overwintering residents!
If your Little Sparks have any questions about butterflies we found Kids Butterflies to be a useful child friendly resource.