Children instinctively enjoy spending time and musing in nature. According to author and naturalist Richard Louv, a healthy childhood is not possible if children are not allowed and encouraged to spend time in wonderment in nature. If you put together an insect house in your yard, a myriad of insects, bugs and other little creatures can easily make this home their habitat. Children can examine and observe the little creatures making their home right in the backyard.
Things You'll Need
- Discarded wooden pallets
- Pieces of dead wood
- Hollow-stemmed plants
- Discarded pipe or 2-liter bottle
- Stones and tiles
- Loose bark and dead leaves
- Nectar-rich plant
Locate an area in the yard near a hedge or under a tree, as many creatures choose to live in cool, damp locations. Choose a building site that has level, even ground, Ask various distributing companies if you can arrange to pick up their discarded wooden pallets. Bring five wooden pallets of the same size to the yard.
Place the first pallet on the ground. Line the second pallet on top of the first. Secure the two together with a few nails. If your child is age 6 or older, offer to let him help hammer in some of the nails while you supervise. Continue in the same manner until all five pallets are secured to the bug house.
Fill in the spaces with items that will create a safe habitat for a variety of insects. Find and place pieces of dead wood in a section of the bug house. Dead wood is increasingly difficult to find as people landscape and clean their yards and gardens. Beetles and woodlice will make the dead wood their home. Arrange hollow bamboo canes or other hollow sticks inside a discarded pipe or a section of an old 2-liter bottle to create a home for solitary bees. Place the arrangement of small tubes on the sunniest side of the bug house, as bees like warmth. Pile stones and tiles in a portion of the house to create a safe habitat for frogs, toads and salamanders. These little creatures will capture insect pests such as mosquitoes and flies.
Fill in the remaining spaces with loose bark and dead leaves. Insects such as ladybugs will use these materials to create their habitats. The warmth and safety provided by this bug house will allow insects to survive the winter, and this habitat will become their permanent home.
Plant a few nectar-producing flowers such as Snapdragons, Four O'clocks, Red-hot Pokers and Red Impatiens in the structure to encourage bumblebees and butterflies to visit the bug house. Turn a ceramic pot upside down to create a space for bumblebees to build their nest. Encourage children to observe this living ecosystem year-round to learn about insects and their life cycles.
- Children and Nature Network: Austin Now Interview with Richard Louve
- "It's Time to Play Outside"; Miska Rynsburger; 2011