Building a 5 Star Bug House

The only bugs I have a problem with are the ones that try to suck my blood or destroy my home or spread disease or actively seek me out to inflict pain upon me. Believe it or not, the vast majority of the bug world does not fall into any of those categories. With the rest, I maintain live and let live philosophy. I don’t mess with you, you don’t mess with me. Everybody’s happy.

In fact, most bugs are beneficial to the world. Many of them pollinate our crops. Or they aerate and/or fertilize the soil. Or they provide food for other animals. Some are even known for taking care of waste products or keeping less desirable bugs and plants in check. And a lot of them are beautiful, in my opinion.

Having said that, I have long wanted to build a bug house to attract beneficial creatures to my backyard garden. I’ve had this tiny one that I bought years ago, and it always gratifies me to see that it’s occupied.

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And recently someone gave dear husband an interesting little bird cage, and we decided to fill it with pine cones and make a bug house out of it as well.

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But I’ve always wanted to build one of my own, and with my husband’s help I was finally able to do so. It was quite a fun process.

Since it was going in the back yard, we decided to pay homage to the beautiful barn that we used to be able to see from there until it was recently torn down. (Check out my blog post that includes a time lapse demolition here.)

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In fact, a lot of the wood and corrugated metal roofing we used on the bug house was salvaged from that barn. We made it into the barn’s unique shape, including the window that used to be there, and the loft as well.

We decided to make 7 different cubby holes for various types of bugs:

  • The loft area is only accessible by a slit, and it’s for ladybugs.

  • Then, on the far right, we’ve got a cozy little cubby full of moss, wood shavings and pine needles, covered by hardware cloth.

  • Then there’s one that has a through and through window that spiders might like. (The rest of the back wall is solid, but we drilled right on through for the window.)

  • Surrounding that are bamboo sticks.

  • Next is an area full of pine cones, also covered with hardware cloth.

  • Then, some wood rounds, and I drilled ¼ inch holes in them, anywhere from 2 ½ inches to 4 inches deep, at least ¾ inches apart, for solitary bees. There’s also some bark shoved in between the rounds.

  • The end is kind of an open patio area that we plan to half fill with tiny little straw hay bales.

I’m really proud of how it came out. I think it’s a work of art. If I were a bug, I’d want to live there.

If you’re considering making yourself a bug house, this is the web page that I found most useful. Check it out. And share pictures if you do it!

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A Barn Razing

For 100 years, this barn looked over a field in Kent, Washington.

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It was a proud barn, a working barn, for much of its life. Before its retirement, it was home to two horses, lovingly referred to as “Mr. Ed” and “Mr. Red”, along with a crazy four-horned Jacob Sheep (“Jake”), a small goat named “Billy”, and an aggressive goat called “Beavis” (because “Butt-Head” seemed too rude.) The barn kept them warm, and sheltered them from storms.

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And then, one day, just like that, the farmer and his animals went away. The land was sold to the city with the stipulation that it remain an undeveloped public park, and the barn stood alone and abandoned for the next 9 years. But its neighbors still loved it, despite the meter-high mounds of pigeon poop that had accumulated inside over time.

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The city was not nearly as in love with the barn as its residents. They feared squatters and arsonists. They feared liability if anyone were to break in and get hurt. So they scheduled it for demolition.

As the clock wound down toward its demise, someone removed the upper barn door. For many months the barn looked as if it was cold, wounded and crying out. Save me. I don’t want to go.

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Winter barn with no door

Soon, some of the wood on the side was stolen, and graffiti artists moved in. It was an undignified end for such a grand structure. Some people have no respect, and no sense of history.

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And then, on the thirteenth day of March, 2019, it happened. The barn was torn down, piece by piece. Here’s a time lapse of it.

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It was a sad day. It was strange to see how quickly it all ended after such a long-standing legacy. Things fall apart. The center does not hold.

The one bright light in all of this is that the wood and the rusty metal roof were salvaged and will be used to build yet another barn somewhere in Eastern Washington. So in a way, our beloved barn lives on. There will be animals for it to shelter once again.

Some day, years from now, people will walk their dogs across this field and not even realize what came before. But some of us will always see this as the place where a beautiful barn once proudly stood. And, oh, it will be missed.

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