A simple project using found materials to create a home for your smallest friends!

Level:   Any age

Duration: 30 minutes

Setting:  Outdoor

Background: Insects play an important to part in our ecosystem! They are a big part of the food chain, essential for pollination, and play many more roles in keeping our world beautiful and livable. Did you know the insects are in trouble? Due to pesticide use and loss of habitat, insect numbers around the world are going down. We can help by choosing organic foods and plants, taking care of the soil, air and water, reducing our chemical use, and building backyard habitats! One fun way to build a habitat for insects is to make an Insect Inn, otherwise known as a Bug Motel! Try building one (or a few!) at home and see what happens! Better yet, plant some native plants in your backyard or in pots, and you will start to see many new and interesting creatures visiting your yard!

Adults should check out our post on building a Backyard Habitat in the Watershed Protector section of our website!

Who will use your Insect Inn?

Good question! That will depend on where in the world you live. Do you live in an urban, suburban or rural area? Generally speaking, you would expect to find some of these visitors:

  • Ants
  • Beetles
  • Snails
  • Slugs
  • Solitary Bees
  • Butterflies
  • Grassoppers
  • Ladybugs
  • Worms
  • Maybe even a tiny toad!


  • For the outside walls: Plant Pot, Cardboard Box, Gallon Jub or Small Pieces of Wood
  • A variety of natural and biodegradable materials such as:
    • Twigs
    • Wood chips
    • Rolled up paper
    • Pine cones
    • Flowers, thin cardboard tubes, leaves, or hollow reeds (bamboo works well), and (if desired), blocks of wood with holes drilled into them.
  • Paper and markers or a small piece of cardboard/wood for a vacancy sign

The Activity: 

  • Decide where your Insect Inn will go. Miss Tracy built hers on an outdoor ledge (see the first image above), but you can also make one that hangs, or fits into some other outdoor nook.
  • Sort and prepare your materials. Its best to have sticks and other materials pre-cut so they can easily be incorporated into your hotel as you go along!
  • Set up the walls of your insect hotel. This may mean setting the plant pot in place, cutting a hole in the gallon jug (with the help of an adult), or attaching the larger wood pieces together to form a house frame.
  • Fill the “rooms” with a variety of materials. You may want to use a bit of glue to hold some materials in place, but you’ll find that the more “stuff” in your hotel, the easier it stays in place. Be creative! There is no right or wrong in the world of Bug Motels.
  • Once you are satisfied with your Insect Accommodations, place it in place (if you haven’t already). Make a sign so the insects know they are welcome!


Keep checking on your Insect Inn – who has moved in? Do you think different creatures will use the motel at different times of year?

Wrap Up:

How did you like this activity? Please share any questions, comments, or photos that you and your child have on the Raritan Headwaters Learning Community Facebook Page!

More Raritan Headwaters Learning Resources