09-Jan-2018

A buzz of insect activity helps your garden

If you watch a garden intently for long enough, you will notice a buzz of insect activity - in the air, on plants, in flowers, and within the soil.

It’s easy to assume that most insects are pests and therefore bad for the garden but the presence of some insects can greatly assist with pollination and post control. Such insects are referred to as ‘beneficial insects’.

Beneficial insects feed off pest insects, helping to manage their numbers and providing a non-toxic alternative to chemical pesticides.

By keeping pest insects in check and broadening your garden’s ecosystem, beneficial insects help keep your garden healthy. The team at Redland City Council has collated the handy list below to help you identify and encourage beneficial insects in your own backyard.

Ladybirds

  • have voracious appetites for aphids, mealy bugs, mites, small larvae and moth eggs
  • are attracted to dill, fennel, coriander, nectar and pollen
  • require water in early morning and late afternoon

Caterpillars

  • become butterflies which are primary pollinators
  • are a food source for birds, mammals and wasps
  • create temporary damage but butterflies provide long term benefits

Butterflies

  • assist with pollination
  • are attracted to brightly coloured blossoms (red, orange and yellow)
  • require host plants for laying eggs

Paper wasps

  • eat caterpillars, spiders and flies
  • assist with pollination
  • enjoy plants that flower in all four seasons

Native bees

  • assist with pollination
  • are attracted to Eucalyptus species, Westringia species, Hardenbergia violacea, Swainsona galegifolia, Leptospermum species and various herbs

Spiders

  • control flies and mosquitoes
  • require a garden that is not perfectly tidy
  • benefit from mulching which attracts insects for food

Insecticides and toxic sprays kill both pest and beneficial insects and can also affect the birds, bats, frogs, lizards and mammals that consume pest insects for food.

Next time you reach for the insecticide or toxic chemicals to kill off some insects, remember you will be impacting more than just the insects you intend to kill.

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