Make an Insect Hotel to Attract Bugs to Your Yard

My insect hotel
My insect hotel | Source
(CC BY-SA 3.0
(CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

"An insect hotel is a man-made structure created from natural materials, they can come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the specific purpose or specific insect it is catered to. Most consist of several different sections that provide insects with nesting facilities – particularly during winter, offering shelter or refuge for many types of insects. Many insect hotels are used as nest sites by insects including solitary bees and solitary wasps.

These insects drag prey to the nest where an egg is deposited. Other insects hotels are specifically designed to allow the insects to hibernate, notable examples include ladybirds and butterflies. Insects hotels are also popular amongst gardeners and fruit and vegetable growers due to encouraging insect pollination." Wikipedia

Cotinis nitida/green bettle

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

If you like nature photography, and more specifically insects, you really do not have to go far if you want to photograph them.

Insects provide a photographer with ample subjects to do macro photography and other types of photography.

However the most difficult part of doing insect photography has always been finding suitable subjects.

You often have to travel out of your home, look for a location that has plenty of greenery, wait patiently for a subject to come your way and them find a suitable angle from which to snap the picture.

If you have a patio or even a balcony, you can make the process that much easier if you attract them to you instead of having to seek them out. Make your own insect hotel to attract bugs to your yard and you better your chances of having more subjects come to you.

An insect hotel is nothing more than a structure filled with various recycled or even discarded materials which you can find all over your yard or home.

Thing like twigs, leaves, empty flower pots, wood, rope and plain tubing can all be adapted to fit the need. Other materials can be logs with drilled holes 2mm – 8mm, tree bark, reeds, bamboo, rocks, tiles, pipe, pine cones, and moss.

Bugs need small holes to crawl into. Others like the warm provided by dry leaves, the intricacies of ropes and some like to make nests in items that are dark and semi protected from the elements.

You should also find a good location near which to set up your hotel. Ideally it should be surrounded by vegetation and away from direct sunlight, so it does not get too hot.

It also helps if you have a water source nearby. A Simple clay pan that is not deep filled with some rocks and kept moist will often be enough.

Osmia cornifrons/mason bee

CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

Chrysochroa buqueti from Java/red jewel bug

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Another key element can be a log on which you have drilled several holes that are about the drilled holes should be.

For leaf-cutter bees, the drilled holes should be about 1/4″ wide and 2 1/2 deep and for mason bees, drill holes that are 4" to 6″ deep, 5/16″ wide

Some other insects that will find your hotel hospitable can be; wood boring bees, beetles, earwigs, solitary wasps, hover-flies, ladybugs, some spiders and many others.

These logs are a favorite spot for wood boring beetles and bees as well as several other species of insects. Place in an upright position and in a location away from direct sunlight.

The hotel and logs should be situated in an area that gives you quick access to it and provides an unobtrusive view so that you can comfortably set up your photo gear and get really close if doing macros.

You should also leave wild plants and grasses grow undisturbed around the area. Many insects feed on these plants, lay their eggs and seek nectar from the flowers.

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Euglossa dilemma/Orchid bee

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

Your insect hotel should be looked at as a place where insects can hibernate, find refuge, lay eggs and mate but they probably will not make it their permanent home since they are free fliers and usually wander far from any particular location.

They should come back during various times of the year but do not count on seeing them just whenever you want to.

Try to identify the species that have moved in, research their habits and get a better understanding on their typical behavior so that you can plan your best shooting times around their schedule.

Some species like food sources close to their home. Fruits, sugar water and flowering plants should be nearby or easily accessible for them.

Having food sources and a safe haven increase the likelihood that they will stay in that location for a longer period of time thus saving you time and effort in tracking them down.

Be mindful that this is meant for your area and its natural insect population. Do not import insects from other parts of the world as this may cause havoc with local species of fauna and flora and may also be illegal.

By the way, consider attracting spiders to your yard too. They eat more insects than many other insect predators combined.

Although you want to attract insects in order to photograph them or study them you do not want them to overrun your yard.

Mowed grass cuttings, leaves and such make good spiders habitats when used as mulch and the majority of spiders do not build webs but actively hunt their prey.

CC0 1.0
CC0 1.0 | Source
My log with drilled holes for mason bees
My log with drilled holes for mason bees | Source

Since your hotel should be away from direct sunlight you should count on using at least one reflector when taking macro shots or regular shots of the "guests".

Because you will probably have less than ideal lighting conditions also count on mounting your gear on a sturdy tripod since macros are notorious for revealing even the sightless movement.

If you can also use an electronic shutter release mechanism to minimize the "shake" that can be produced when you depress the camera shutter.

The best times for this photography as well as the majority of others are during dusk, early morning and overcast skies.

This light is particularly good since it is naturally diffused thus avoiding creating strong shadows and capturing more detail that is not "washed" up by strong light.

Coccinellidae/Lady Bugs

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source
My fish pond (water source) Insects get water as it sprinkles onto the stones. BTW the fish love when bugs "slip and fall in"
My fish pond (water source) Insects get water as it sprinkles onto the stones. BTW the fish love when bugs "slip and fall in" | Source

© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez

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2 comments

grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

This is the first time I heard of an insect hotel. If it keeps them out of my house, I'd build one, even if I never photograph them.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 2 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

grand old lady: Thank you. Actually it should bring insects to it and keep them out of other structures.....like your home......lol

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