We built a bug house, ticking off no.11 of the RSPB’s Give Nature a Home. Ok, so it says make a high rise bug hotel, but we are very proud of our little bug house. There was an old rickety bookcase that was stood empty in the garage, so I thought, if I chopped that with a jigsaw, then the children can hammer it into a shape with nails. Then I had an even crazier thought….if I bought a saw, they can saw it too (I’m not quite in command of a jigsaw when operating it, so I didn’t trust myself to help them use it and leave them with a full set of limbs and digits!!). So off we went on a hunt for a saw…a very bizarre situation buying my first saw with the purpose of my children using it!!
We had a rough plan of what needed to go into our bug house: We needed dead wood, essential for the larvae of wood boring beetles, for example the stag beetle. We needed bamboo canes for the solitary bees (however we swapped these for straws like our bee home, after several unsuccessful attempts at snapping them smaller, and just making bamboo mash). We wanted stones for cool damp conditions for any amphibians that might wander our way (not sure how likely that is but we can try). Cardboard was rolled into the insides of cut off small water bottles to try and create a nice environment for any lacewings that might fancy a home. We also put in dry leaves, dry bark, and fir cones to make lots of cosy crevices for any invertebrates that might fancy visiting.
They loved using the saw, and I think a few arms may ache in the morning. Then once we had unscrewed and chopped the bookcase wood a little smaller we started out trying to make our bug home. Our first attempt was a little optimistic and we would have made a bug skyscraper!! Once we rapidly realised this was going to take about a year to complete and need all the dry bark from the back play area of the garden, more dry leaves than fell last autumn in Hampshire, and we’d encourage all the wildlife of the south coast to live with us (shudder), we went for something a little smaller. It is now placed at the back of the garden peeping out from behind a plant, near a large flower bed, and out of the eternal hurricane that seems to blow everyday in this part of the country! We all enjoyed building this, apart from no.2 mini man as it was his day at preschool, so we will have to think of another project 🙂 The wood box for hammering and nailing play is now stuffed full with the rest of the bookcase, we’ve saved a trip to the tip (it really was really wobbly as it was the first piece of flat-packed furniture I ever built back in 2000), and we have recycled something that was otherwise off to the tip!