Learning About Insects

Learning About Insects

13 February 2022

Insects in the garden are important; both the pests and the beneficial insects play a crucial role in a well-rounded ecosystem. By increasing the variety of insects in your garden you can maintain a healthy balance between pests and beneficial insects.

Planting shrubs which have lots of flowers is an excellent way to attract beneficial insects into gardens. There are a number of native plants that provide suitable nectar and pollen for insect food – see if you can identify them in your garden, or you might like to visit a garden centre as an outing and see if you can find them there! These include:

  • Olearia
  • Muehlenbeckia astonii - shrubby tororaro
  • Pittosporum tenuifolium - kōhūhu
  • Pittosporum eugenioides - tarata / lemonwood
  • Plagianthus regius - mānatu / ribbonwood
  • Cordyline australis - ti rākau / cabbage tree
  • Hebe

The following principles will help to enhance the number of beneficial insects in your garden:

  • Providing flowers suitable for beneficial insects.
  • Providing refuges such as long grass or hedges for beneficial insects to over-winter in.
  • Minimise spraying and only using insecticides specific to the pest you want to target.
  • Successively plant to provide a continuous source of nectar and pollen resources.
  • Try to coincide flowering with the life-cycle of the insects in your garden.

Insects such as lacewings, praying mantis, ladybirds, hoverflies, ground beetles, earwigs, native bees, native wasps and assassin bugs all control insect pests. Spiders, centipedes and some mite species are also effective hunters of insect pests.

Now let’s go on a nature hunt around our gardens to see what insects we might be able to find. What else did you find in your garden? Take a photo and then google or visit the library to see what insect you may have found!

Information from www.doc.govt.nz

Ka whāngaia, ka tupu, ka puāwai

That which is nurtured blossoms and grows