Leftover odds and ends from home-improvement projects can find new bite in your backyard.


But I'm not worried. I made these bugs from scraps leftover from weekend projects. Long nails, bolts, and copper pipes form the bodies; aluminum flashing and bronze screen make the wings. Wire holds them together and also creates lifelike legs and antenna. My bugs have a whimsical look, thanks to their colorful eyes made from beads. The eyes give each one a different personality.

If you don't have a basement full of junk or scraps, buy materials from a local hardware store. Baling wire is great for the legs. It's cheap and sold in bulk rolls but rusts quickly if it gets wet. Aluminum or galvanized wire won't rust, so you have a choice, rusty or non-rusty wire. Thin-gauge wire works well for making slender, whiplike antennae. It's helpful to have various gauges of wire on hand to fashion different appendages.

Aluminum or metal flashing, usually sold in rolls, is great material for the wings. You can also use bronze-colored screen for this. Large nails and copper pipe are good for making the long bodies of linear-shaped bugs. Small dragonflies can be constructed from square concrete nails; make large ones with copper pipe or 10- or 12-inch nails.

Common household tools are all that's needed to assemble these bugs. Tin snips cut easily through the metal or aluminum flashing, but you should wear leather gloves to protect your hands from the sharp edges. A small pair of pliers with cutters are needed to clip and twist the wire. Use a hammer and nail to punch holes in the flashing. Special paint that will adhere to metal is all it takes to make the bugs colorful. Lightly rough up the flashing with sandpaper or steel wool so the paint will stick to its smooth surface.

These metal wonders can add a little surprise or a fun element to your home, deck, or garden. Just don't let the exterminator see them.

A word of caution: Although they look neat, these bugs can have sharp edges, so they don't make good play toys for small children.

"Buggin' Out" is from the August 2003 issue of Southern Living.