Investing in an insect house is a fantastic way to support the local wildlife, and having more bugs in our gardens has its benefits for us humans too. Not only are they often fascinating to watch, but they also pollinate our plants and feed on pests like aphids.
Luckily, encouraging insects into our gardens is fairly simple - even in urban areas. By introducing pollinator-friendly plants and installing a bug hotel or two, you can make sure your outdoor space is a welcoming environment for local wildlife.
Check out our selection of the best insect houses available below.
How to install and care for an insect house
The best insect houses are fairly low-maintenance, but there are a few steps you can take to make sure they provide a safe environment for your garden critters.
- Place the insect house in a sunny spot at least a metre off the ground and away from leaves and other plants
- Whether you attach the bug hotel to a tree, fence post or wall, make sure it’s stable and doesn’t move in the wind
- Check your insect house every year at the end of summer and get rid of any debris to stop mould growth and mites, which could harm the hotel’s next inhabitants
- Take the insect house down and replace it when it starts to deteriorate - usually, this happens after two or more years, but you can replace certain parts of the hotel if the main structure is sound
Best insect houses to buy today
Woodside wooden insect and bee house
For a reasonably priced insect house with room for a variety of different species, you can’t go wrong with this bug hotel from Woodside. It has dead wood for earwigs, bamboo for bees and butterflies and pine cones for green lacewings.
Not only do the untreated wooden sections create an ideal habitat for all kinds of different creatures, but they should also blend in with the foliage in your garden.
The bug hotel measures 37cm in height and 26cm across. To hang it from a tree or wall, just use the included mounting plate on the back.
If you’re after something a little different, why not try a bee block? It’s made from polished cast concrete, so it should survive even the harshest of conditions for years to come.
You don’t even need to hang the block from a vertical surface; simply place it in a sunny spot and let the bees do the rest. They’ll choose a cavity, lay eggs and seal up the opening with dirt or leaves. If you’re lucky, you should see the young emerge in the spring, leaving the brick empty for the next lot of bees to lay their eggs.
Small insect house
Perfect for attaching to tree trunks, this small insect hotel is just 12.5cm across and 9.5cm deep.
Despite its compact size, it still houses an array of different materials, creating a safe habitat for bugs including ladybirds, solitary bees, lacewings and earwigs. Inside, you’ll find everything from FSC-certified wood to bamboo and pine cones.
And, as an added bonus, each of these small insect hotels arrived in recyclable packaging to further support the environment.
Avel hanging bumblebee & butterfly house
- Buy now from Wayfair (£63.99)
One of the largest insect houses available to buy, this roomy one measures 31cm tall by 30.5cm across. It’s best suited to garden walls and fences, and the slanted roof should protect it against rain and damp.
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The main structure is crafted from fir wood and filled with offcuts, bamboo and pine cones to attract bees, lacewings and other bugs. A handy metal mesh keeps everything neat and tidy inside while protecting the inhabitants from curious animals and birds.
Related read: the best plants for bees and butterflies
Spruce wild bee house
This six-sided bee hotel tips its hat to the hexagonal honeycomb created by the hardworking bees it's designed to attract. But it’s practical as well as attractive, as it’s filled to the brim with bamboo to provide plenty of room for a swarm of bees.
As a finishing touch, the manufacturers dip each bee house in a non-toxic, water-based wood stain to improve its appearance and longevity without harming future inhabitants.
Varya free-standing insect hotel
- Buy now from Wayfair (£127.99)
If you want to go all-out and create a sprawling hotel for your garden critters, take a look at this impressive freestanding model, which reaches almost 80cm in height. After attaching the two wooden legs, you just push them into the ground in a sheltered spot.
In time, bees, butterflies and other insects should take up residence, thanks to the varied selection of wood blocks, bamboo and pine cones. One of the added benefits of this bug house is the extra space in the middle for butterflies.
You can also mount the hotel to the wall if you prefer not to use the wooden stakes.
Bumblebee villa and colony
- Buy now from Dobies (£119.99)
If you really want to create a haven for wildlife, try establishing a bee colony in your garden. With this kit, you actually set up a cluster of bumblebees in their own villa. Then, the queens go on to create their own colonies nearby.
Order your house to coincide with the bees’ life cycle; usually they’re available between April and July. As bumblebees don’t live as long as honey bees, this kit also comes with a voucher for a replacement colony. So, you can keep your garden - and the local area - abuzz with bees.
Welcome animals as well as insects by building your own hedgehog house.
Alice is a digital writer with a knack for tracking down the most innovative and exciting products to hit the market. Working across several of Our Media's special interest brands, she's written for publications including Countryfile, Gardens Illustrated and Science Focus. Outside of work - and lusting over homeware and gardening products - you’ll find her rambling in the great outdoors or watching an old film.
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