How To Build A Bug Hotel Using Recycled Materials

Build a bug hotel they said. It will be fun they said. And they were right! We were recently tasked with building a bug hotel by my daughter’s school. It’s something I was keen to do for a while but then I get put off by so many of those perfect looking bug hotels you see on Pinterest. Ours is not one of those, but it turned out to be a pretty awesome Bug Hotel nonetheless. We decided to use some leftover pallets and some of the plastic bottles from our every growing recycling bin. This is our DIY bug hotel using recycled materials.

What is a Bug Hotel?

Also called an insect house, or an insect hotel, it’s basically a structure made of sticks and plants all packed in together to resemble a house that insects and bugs can then make their own. With lots of little crevices for them to make their temporary home. It’s also a really great way to encourage diversity and wildlife into your garden or park.

We have seen a number of bug hotels. There’s a gorgeous one outside the library of York Minster Learning in York. We also saw one at the Chester Zoo and even a few at one of our local parks. Here are a few photos of those.

What Materials Should You Use To Build Your Insect House?

The list is endless really. A number of the perfect looking ones you may have seen on Pinterest are only made from natural products. However, I much prefer the idea of using recycled materials. Instead of the plastic bottles going to landfill and causing harm to wildlife, we’re using them to create something that can actually benefit wildlife.

For our DIY bug hotel we used the following materials:

  • Old pallets that were going to be recycled anyway
  • Plastic bottles (2l soda bottles and milk bottles)
  • sticks, twigs, and leaves that were taken from the undergrowth of where the bug hotel was going to be left
  • nails, a hammer, and a drill (maybe)
  • roof sealant leftover from when we had to reseal our garden shed roof
  • an egg carton

For more ideas on recycling on a budget, and how to live a more sustainable life without blowing the budget, check out this post I wrote a while ago.

Let’s build a Bug Hotel!

First, we created the base layer by cutting the one pallet. We cut it to the size we wanted the finished hotel to be. We then started layering in the 2l plastic bottles. I had already washed them out and cut the tops off them, and in some cases the bottom too. We then stuffed them with sticks and twigs.

When we were done we added another layer of wooden planks on top to hold it all into place.

We then added a layer of the waterproofing roof sealant to separate that level from the next.

For the second storey of the bug hotel we decided to make the entrance to this storey on the opposite side to the layer below. We then packed in the milk bottles stuffed with foliage etc too. As with the soda bottles these had also been washed out and had the tops cut off. We also punctured these with extra breathing holes to encourage air flow. Again, we also sealed this layer with more roofing sealant.

Bug Hotel with milk bottles

For the top layer we put a slanted roof on it and then shoved more plastic bottles and sticks and foliage into the area under the slanted roof.

I think it turned out pretty well. What do you think?

But Hotel using recycled materials

Top Tips For Building A Bug Hotel

  1. Make sure you build it close to where the final resting place will be or at least have a clear way of getting it there.
  2. Take care when using any tools
  3. Wash out any recycled plastics you plan to use and try to make sure there are no sharp edges if you do cut the tops off them.
  4. Let your imagination run wild, and let the kids take the lead when it comes to interior decorating of your bug hotel.

Please share your pictures of your bug hotels if you do decide to make one. This is definitely one of those lockdown homeschool crafts activities I have enjoyed. They are great fun, and a really good family bonding activity.

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3 Little Buttons


  1. My husband would love to do this project with my daughter. Me personally…not a huge bug fan

  2. This looks like such a fun activity to do with the kids! My two sons would get a kick out of it for sure. Thanks for the idea!

  3. How fun is this? I know my son would LOVE it as he’s totally obsessed with bugs and all animals right now!

  4. A bug hotel?! Who knew this was a thing?? This is soooo cuuute! I’m in love! My little guy is still a bit young for this but I’m gonna put this in my back pocket for when he gets a bit older. I think he would totally love to make one. He’s already crazy for bugs LOL!

  5. What a great idea for the kids to get using the recycled pieces and putting them to good use. Also, it must’ve been interesting to see what types of bugs show up.

  6. I have seen these on farms we have visited, but never thought to try to make our own. What a great green project to do with the kiddos this summer!

  7. What a fantastic bug hotel! We have a kit that we’ve not quite got round to making just yet, but it’s very small compared to your homemade one. I love how you’ve made it with a pallet and all those recycled materials. Just imagine all those lovely little critters that will make for great bug hunt opportunities in the coming weeks. Thanks for joining us for the #DreamTeamLinky xx

    1. Author

      It was a lot of fun. It is quite big though, the smaller ones are just as good though. I see even Aldi are selling the kits.

  8. My daughter has made bug hotels with Beavers and I think it would be a fun activity to do at home: thanks for the ideas and great to use recycling, Thanks for linking up with #dreamteamlinky

  9. We built something like this when we were raising bugs for our chameleons, but yours is so much more elegant! Sounds like a great activity with children.

  10. What a clever learning project for kids! It would be a lot of fun to see what different styles they come up with.

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