How to Build a DIY Bug Hotel

Learn how to create a DIY bug hotel where your beneficial backyard insects can put all six feet up and recharge their batteries.

bug hotelK.-U. Haessler/Shutterstock

How to Build a Bug Hotel

Supplies

  • Wooden frame
  • Plywood
  • Nails
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Exterior paint
  • Drill
  • Rope
  • Twigs, bark, grass and leaves

Instructions

Step 1: Build a wooden frame in any shape, such as a rectangle or hexagon. The frame should be made out of natural or recycled components. Make sure it’s deep enough so that you can add materials later—at least 3 inches should do the trick. If you don’t want to build one, look for something to recycle. Try an old wooden drawer or a deep picture frame. A sturdy roof will keep the materials mostly dry.

Step 2: Secure a plywood backing to one side of the frame with nails and wood glue. If the recycled frame already has a back, skip this step.

Step 3: Sand the frame and cover it with two coats of exterior paint. Choose a color that suits your backyard or complements the plants in the area where you plan to hang the bug house.

Step 4: To form a hanger, drill two holes in the frame, thread a rope through the holes and tie the ends together to form a knot.

Step 5: Fill the frame with natural materials. Stuff twigs, bark, grass and leaves into the bug hotel until it’s full. Create plenty of small crevices for insects to hide and nest.

Step 6: Hang it and wait for your first guests! Bug house benefits pest-eating insects and pollinators move into these houses to nest in the summer and hibernate in winter. Check out super fragrant flowers that pollinators love.

How to Attract Insects to a Bug Hotel

Straw and pine cones host beneficial hoverflies. Sticks and logs help ladybugs, since they spend winter underneath the pieces. Cavities attract hibernating carpenter bees. Chunks of wood with drilled holes are ideal for overwintering mason and leafcutter bees. Bark shreds provide a home for beetles, spiders and millipedes. Learn about beneficial bees you want in your yard.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.