Building an insect hotel from cans – instructions and tips


If you want to lure insects into your garden and offer them shelter, you don’t have to be a great craftsman. You can also build an insect hotel from cans.

Insect hotel from a can
© christiane65 –

Insects are very useful animals in the home garden. Unfortunately, however, nature offers them less and less suitable places to make it easier for insects to reproduce. So they’re already dependent on our help these days. You can help the little animals, for example, by building a classic insect hotel. But you can also build an earwig house from a clay pot or build an insect hotel from a can. We would like to explain the latter to you in more detail here.

Which insects use this insect hotel?

An insect hotel from a can is particularly suitable to offer the wild bees a suitable place to spend the winter. Depending on the filling material, other insects also use the hotel they built themselves. If you use high plant stems and tubes, clay wasps and wall bees will feel very comfortable. If you want to create a suitable place for earwigs, it makes sense to use straw as filling material. You should therefore consider before building which insects you would like to offer a suitable home.

What you need to build an insect hotel

Often you will find an endless list of materials needed to build an insect hotel. Therefore one could quickly lose the joy of the building project. An insect hotel in a tin can is not only quickly built, but also requires only a few materials.


❍ a washed out, clean can (at least 10 cm high)
❍ desired filling material like e.g:

  • clay
  • bamboo
  • reed
  • straw
  • stems of raspberries, blackberries, elderberries or deadwood
  • small branches

❍ a long ribbon (e.g. a cord or a thin wire)


❍ stable scissors
❍ Hot Glue
❍ Pliers
❍ Sandpaper
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❍ Nail

Instructions for the construction of the insect hotel

Step one:

Before you start building, you should remove the label from the can and clean it thoroughly. You can remove adhesive residue with dishwashing detergent. The can must then dry well.

Step two:

In order not to hurt yourself on the can, you can bend the upper edge inwards with pliers or sand it down with some sandpaper. This step is particularly important if you are building an insect hotel together with children.

Step three:

Then pick up the hammer and a large nail and make small holes in the bottom of the can. This ensures air circulation in the insect hotel.

Step four:

If you want to build a colourful insect hotel, now is the time to decorate the can. You can paint the can e.g. with waterproof colors or stick colorful stickers on it. Then you must wait until the paint is well dried before starting the next step.

Step five:

While the can is drying, you can use the time to trim the stems or prepare the clay.

Insect hotel with plant stems:
To build an insect hotel with plant stems, the stems must be the same size as the can. Once you’ve trimmed all the stems, you can stuff them into the can. The can must be so full that nothing falls out when you turn it upside down.

Insect hotel with clay:
You can fill the can completely with clay. You can also fill one half of the can with plant stems and the other half with clay. Then you have to drill holes about five centimeters deep into the clay. This will help the female insects, as they will save themselves the hassle of digging and can immediately move into their new home.

Insect hotel with straw:
If you want to give earwigs a new home, you can fill the entire can with straw. Here, too, you must ensure that the can is completely filled with straw and that this does not fall out if possible. If this doesn’t work out so well, you can later put the insect hotel on the ground instead of hanging it up. Earwigs are mainly on the ground anyway and will also move into their new hotel there.

Step six:

If you have provided the insect hotel with the desired filling material, you are almost ready with the handicrafts. Now all you have to do is decide if and where you want to hang the insect hotel. To do this, tie a long string or thin wire around the front and back of the can so that there is a large loop in the middle. You can then hang the Insektenhotel from it.

Important tips for an insect hotel from a can

❶ If you decide to build an insect hotel from a can, you should first think about which animals you would like to offer a new home. Not every insect likes every filling material.

❷ When filling the can, make sure that the edges are rounded. This not only prevents injuries to humans, but also protects the sensitive wings of insects.

❸ Make sure that you choose one or a maximum of two different filling materials. Several materials should not be mixed, because many insects do not understand each other. If you want to use several materials, you can fill several cans with different materials and then glue them together with hot glue. This creates a large insect hotel with various “rooms”.

❹ If you intend to hang the insect hotel on a tree, a strong band is needed. Especially if you want to hang several cans together. These can become very heavy depending on the filling material.

❺ The suitable place is another important point. Hang the new insect hotel on a tree and point the entrance south. So the entrance is always sunny and the insects find it easier.

❻ If you hang the insect hotel in your garden, make sure that many flowering plants are nearby. This is especially important for bees, because flowers and perennials provide them with food.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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