Essex Junction arts students build bug hotels

ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) As temperatures drop, bugs are looking for warm spots to spend the winter. But many homeowners don't leave their yards with dead wood, leaves, or other spots to go. Some Essex Junction students are working to solve that problem.

Tools are buzzing in the classroom at Thomas Fleming School in Essex Junction. These students are busy bees on a mission. "We are making bug hotels for bugs," said fifth- grader Tennyson Miller.

You heard him right -- Bug hotels. Miller and his partner are building theirs for a stag beetle. "This is supposed to be a rotting wood area because their larvae like to eat rotting wood," Miller said. "Adult stag beetles eat sap, so the pine cones and pine needles have sap on them."

"There's little nooks and crannies that they can go into to keep warm," said fifth-grader Savienne Drury.

Drury knows big lawns and a lack of dead wood often leave bugs without a place to live. She hopes her hotel will be a hive of activity for bumblebees this winter. "We have one compartment in here which is hay and straw glued to the walls. And over here we have plants and then holes inside of bricks, and some empty space under so they can drill to stay warm," she said.

"It's part of an arts integration project," said Lisa Foley, the art the teacher overseeing the project. She says as the kids build they work with measurements, calculations, research, and construction. "Teaching them how to use power tools. Kids don't get exposed to that anymore. Hammers, nails and how to use these things -- they're empowered."

The class hopes to put their homes outside next week and then check on them in the spring.