Bug house now open for visitors! This easy project is made from a thrift shop knicknack shelf and natural materials found around the garden.
I spent a whopping $3.50 for this project.
I’ll show you how I assembled it and provide ideas for turning this into a group project.
If you enjoy frugal, repurposed projects, also see: Recycled Craft Project Idea Bank. Lots of ideas!
Keeping it Real
Yes, it would be silly to imply bugs really need a house to make a home, so consider this more a piece of garden art celebrating the beauty of nature rather than a tourism destination for all those little wigglies that bring nature to life.
Bug houses are really popular right now probably because it’s just a fun way to spend time outside, collect natural treasures, and build something with them. While they certainly will attract some insects, I just find them beautiful. Beneficial insects would be a bonus.
Making bug houses would be an enjoyable group project. Whether it’s a garden therapy activity in a hospital setting or an afternoon project for a group of children, it can be organized into stations where everyone has a role to contribute. Tasks could be divided based on interests and physical abilities.
It does get messy, so set up an outdoor work station where no one has to worry about the debris. It will all get cleaned up in the end. Or not.
Bug House Supplies
Some links go to my Amazon affiliate account. As always, I try and find my supplies second-hand at yard sales and thrift shops.
- I used a house-shaped nicknack shelf as the frame but really, any durable wood frame (at least a few inches deep) will do.
If you see an intersecting box shelf at the thrift shop, grab it! It would look really cool on a fence.
- You may need pruners, clippers, or some sort of small saw for thicker pieces.
- I actually ran the larger branch pieces through the miter saw (so fast and easy!) but just use what you have. Frugal keeps it fun.
Like my assistant helping with the photography?
The sections of the house are stuffed with twigs, plant stems, pinecones, seed pods, and any other natural materials you can find.
I keep a yard waste pile in my garden for projects like this. Plus, the birds love shopping there for nesting materials.
It takes a fair amount of these things to fill the house, so don’t be skimpy!
I like putting similar things together, so I sorted my pile by type/colour and set to work breaking everything into 3″ lengths to match the depth of the house.
Related: 12 lovely nature craft ideas here.
If you were doing this with a group, you could have these work stations:
- Hunters and gatherers – to get materials.
- Sorters – putting like materials together.
- Choppers – to break everything into same-size pieces.
- Assemblers – putting the pieces into the frames (houses).
This is definitely a project for nature nuts. Those who are insect-phobic need not apply! As I was breaking up the materials, I found all sorts of interesting insects, nests, and things. And yes, it was a tad ironic that I was dislodging insect habitats so I could build them a house!
Cram everything in quite tightly so it will stay in place as things settle and gradually disintegrate.
I hung mine on the fence—again, regarding it more as a piece of art than a potential home for wild things. Although you never know…
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PS: My assistants think you will enjoy this DIY bird and butterfly water feeder. Now, if I could just teach them to do the tidying up…