Welcome to Discovery Time, a video series designed for families with young children (2+ years) as a way of introducing kids to nature. Each video has a project and a suggested book list.

Learn how to make a bug hotel!

Bugs Hotel Instructions

Ages: 2-5 years
Time Required: 10-20 minutes


  • Reused tubes (paper towel, toilet paper, gift wrap, oatmeal container, egg carton)
  • Items found in nature (moss, leaves, sticks) or shredded paper

Try this!

Step 1: Collect some recycled materials such as paper towel tubes

Step 2: Collect items in nature or shredded paper

Step 3: Stuff the tubes full of natural items or paper

Step 4: Attach the tubes together or stuff them inside a larger tube and place them under a tree

Step 5: Check them carefully every week to see what living creatures you can find.

What’s going on?

Bugs come in all shapes and sizes, from bright butterflies to crawling cockroaches and so much in between. But where can we look for bugs? Many bugs can be found flying though the sky and near flowers. Some bugs live underground and can be found by rolling logs but remember to always roll your log back and to let your new friends go back home.

There are lots bugs that are beneficial to humans, especially pollinators. Bugs provide many benefits to the ecosystem as well, in addition to pollination, they also are an important part of the nutrient cycle, and they are a huge food source for many animals. They face many different threats in human environments due to things like habitat loss, pollution and pesticides.

Bug hotels can benefit lots of different types of bugs, they can provide a safe space to shelter, lay their eggs and raise their young, while also providing refuge from predators. The best time of year to make a bug hotel is in the autumn since many bugs will be looking for a safe space in preparation for the upcoming cold weather, but you can make your hotel at any time of the year.

Extension Activity

You can try out an experiment to see what bug hotel habitats work best by changing the items inside them; or to find out if there are some areas in your yard that can attract more bugs than others you can make the same type of habitat and place them in different locations. You can see how long it takes the bugs to come and use the hotel, and see which hotel has a greater number of bugs or different types of bugs inside it. Remember to write down your observations each time you check your hotel!

Supporting Stories

  • Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi
  • Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Bob Barner

Have Fun, Stay Safe

Adventuring outside with children is more about exploring what you find, not the destination!

  • Have fun and be flexible.
  • Give the kids some control, but keep them close.
  • Bring snacks and plenty of fluids.
  • Dress yourself and your children in layers and wear closed-toe shoes, long sleeves, pants and a hat to protect your skin from sunburn and insect bites.
  • Pick a short, interesting hike and allow a lot of time.
  • Safety first! Check your surroundings and watch where you step. Be extra cautious around water.
  • Be prepared with first aid.
  • Plan for weather!
  • Teach, sing and play games with your kids.
  • Review with the kids – each hike – what to do if they should become separated from you.

Ethics of Collecting

  • Respect all living things including all plants and animals.
  • Return all living creatures back to where you found them.
  • Collect carefully!
  • Respect others property, watch for posted signs and private property.
  • Take a close look at nature, but best practice is to return natural items where they were found.