You will need
- Pens or pencils
- A4 paper
- Camera or phone
- Natural materials (for example, leaves, twigs, feathers)
Get to know your bugs
- Everyone should name some common minibeasts (invertebrates) that you might find in the garden (for example, ants, bees, butterflies, centipedes, ladybirds, moths, snails, slugs, worms).
- Everyone should think about the different types of invertebrate there are (insects such as bees and moths, beetles such as ladybirds, arachnids such as cellar spiders, myriapods such as millipedes and centipedes, annelids such as earthworms). What do invertebrates have in common? How are some very different to each other? Invertebrates make up 97% of all animal life on Earth, and there are around 25,000 different types in the UK.
- Everyone should think about why invertebrates are important. What jobs do they do in the animal kingdom? What do they eat? What eats them?
- Everyone should split into small teams and hunt for invertebrates. Explore a bug hotel or an outside space to see what you can find.
- To find an invertebrate everyone should be quiet and careful. They should look in the air, around plants, in the soil, in cracks the pavement, and under stones and logs. No one should touch any invertebrates – if anyone does, they should make sure they put it back where they found it.
- Everyone should record their findings by drawing pictures or taking photographs.
- Everyone should come back together to discuss what they found. Where did they find the minibeasts? What kinds of homes or habitats did they seem to prefer? Did anyone find anything unusual or surprising?
Create a bug hotel
- Everyone should think about the kind of invertebrate that they want to attract to their bug hotel. Different bug hotels are made to attract certain kinds of bugs. To do this, you need to make the conditions there as similar to those that minibeasts like in nature. Where does your favourite invertebrate live in the wild? What are their favourite things? Examples of habitats include:
- A pile of rotting sticks and logs will act like a fallen tree and attract woodlice, beetles, spiders, and centipedes.
- Letting areas grow high with wild flowers and grasses will attract grasshoppers and bees.
- Holes and small tubes made out of bamboo, reeds, and drilled logs make the perfect home for solitary bees.
- Larger holes with stones and tiles provide cool and damp conditions for frogs and toads.
- Dry leaves, sticks or straw will attract ladybirds.
- Corrugated cardboard is a favourite of lacewings.
- Dry leaves will mimic a forest floor, favoured by lots of different minibeasts.
- Everyone should have a go at making a bug hotel outdoors using natural materials.
- Everyone should check back on their bug hotel in a week or two and record what they find there by taking photographs or drawing pictures.
This activity was about valuing the outdoors and looking closely at the world around you. Did you learn anything new about the important jobs invertebrates do in the natural world? What would happen if we didn’t have minibeasts of all kinds?
This activity was also about caring about the impact of your actions. If you lived in a place that had no space for invertebrates to build their homes, what could happen? How could you help to create more habitats for minibeasts in your garden, school or local park?
- Gardening and nature
Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.