An Easy DIY Insect Habitat by OmVed Gardens

Every so often a DIY project comes across our Instagram feed that stops us in our tracks–as was the case when Omved Gardens shared a video tutorial on building a “bug snug” for hibernating insects. Here was a truly easy to do-it-yourself project that uses materials gardeners likely have on hand (sticks and twine) and solves a common problem (what to do with extra cuttings and slow-to-compost twigs), all while supporting wildlife. We bookmarked it straightaway, but what was even more intriguing was that within a few weeks, we saw other gardeners recreating the bug snug or reposting OmVed’s video on their own feed: This humble garden DIY had gone about as viral as a garden post could go. 

Founded in 2017 on a formally tarmacked piece of land in north London’s Highgate Village, Omved Gardens is an educational garden and community space with a focus on biodiversity and permaculture. John Gaffney, the landscape gardener at Omved, says inspiration for the bug snug came from a visit to the Royal Horticultural Society’s Wisley Garden last fall. “When leaving the gardens I noticed these pyramidal structures dotted around the car park,” says Gaffney. “There were signs posted explaining the purpose of these interesting structures and how they were made.” The towers of sticks support insects and invertebrates by providing a safe place to hibernate, and the hollow stems of dead plants, in particular, make excellent little hideaways. 

So when Gaffney was left with piles of sticks and hollow stems after preparing Omved’s wildflower beds for winter, he decided to make a smaller-scale version of the pyramids he’d seen at Wisley. “As gardeners, it’s very easy to want to get in the garden and clean up all the mess and the cuttings off the floor. But actually what wildlife wants is a bit of mess,” Gaffney says. And not only are the structures functional and attractive, he notes, they have made for great conversation starters about how to “prepare” for winter and the need to leave a bit of untidiness around for wildlife.

Here’s how to create your own bug snug.

Photography by Will Hearle, courtesy of OmVed Gardens, unless otherwise noted.

Step 1: Build the frame.

Gaffney demonstrates how to create the frame for the bug snug. Stills from video by Will Hearle for OmVed Gardens.
Above: Gaffney demonstrates how to create the frame for the bug snug. Stills from video by Will Hearle for OmVed Gardens.

Choose a position for your snug in a sunny spot if possible. Gather three sturdy wood poles of equal length; Gaffney used hazel, but says you can use any straight pieces of wood, including bamboo canes. You can make your snug any size (OmVed’s snugs stand about chest high). Gaffney tied the poles together informally; if you want to get fancy, you can use a clove hitch to create a proper tripod lashing. Once you’ve secured the poles, they should stand up by themselves, but you can knock them into the ground with a hammer or mallet to make the pyramid more secure.

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