Beneficial insects

Beneficial insects

Insects play an import role in the health of our gardens and the wider ecosystem. By creating a conducive environment we can encourage the tiny helpers to hang around. Insects prey on others, pollinate plants, are food for birds and generally add to the richness, complexity and diversity of a healthy ecosystem.
Baby praying mantis

Baby praying mantis

A recently hatched young praying mantis. These guys hunt and eat other insects which is generally a beneficial trait.
European potter wasp

European potter wasp

Ancistrocerus gazella is a species of potter wasp. As an adult they eat nectar and aphid honeydew. The female collects as many as 20 caterpillars which the hatched lava eat. Each nest consists of a single cell which is sealed with mud.
Dung beetles

Dung beetles

Aphodius fimetarius is a species of scarab beetles native and common to Europe.

I first noticed them in kunekune pig manure in 2018. Reportedly first seen on Banks Peninsula in 2004.
Adult bugs are up to 8mm long and emerge to fly to new sites after spending their juvenile phase inside the manure.
December 08, 2020
The enemy of my enemy is my friend

The enemy of my enemy is my friend

March 2020
Over the past few years we (and others out there) have been experiencing an explosion in the number of green shield / vegetable / stink bugs (Nezara viridula). We try and be accommodating to the various other creatures we share the world with, however these things are especially annoying with the damage they do to summer vegetables and fruit. In particular we find they enjoy tomatoes, beans and corn with lesser damage done to capsicums and fruit.

While there are a number of documented predators of this insect the only ones I have actually seen in action are poultry and spiders.

A year or two back I introduced a juvenile bug to a small jumping spider who quickly pounced and commenced feeding. More recently some visiting students noticed a decent sized wolf spider (Lycosidae) lunching on an adult shield bug.

It's reassuring to witness the local ecosystem operating to maintain balance and equilibrium. As the population or one organism increases so does the opportunities for their predators. Knowing this it is essential that our gardens provide adequate and appropriate habitats for these various helpers. And while our tendency for binary, black and white thinking makes us quick to label species as friends or foe we should take a moment to contemplate that, just like humans, other organisms have multiple roles to play, giving and taking as they participate in the dance of life.

January 2021
So far this summer, which has been punctuated by many brief cool and rainy periods, we have seen very few of the green stink bug. Plenty of other flying insects around, including as small wasp I noticed exploring calendula seed clusters, a popular location for freshly hatched shield bugs.

March 27, 2020
Predatory insects

Predatory insects

Since arriving at this location in 2009 and allowing it to revert to a more natural way while introducing lots of new biodiversity, we have noticed a continual increase in the numbers and types of insects and other small creatures. There is a whole world of barely noticed activity where spiders and flies, ladybugs and butterflies live out their tiny dramas...
Here a preying mantis devours a fly on a pear tree.
April 02, 2019


A positive site in the garden, the common ladybird is a beneficial insect as it consumes aphids. Shown here on a sunflower leaf they are also fond of the flowers of parsnip, coriander and celery. A quick audit of a small section of the garden revealed over 120 of these wonderful creatures.
December 17, 2015
Bumble bee working

Bumble bee working

Details  We love our hard working bumble bees. Here one explores the solomon's seal.
Date  November 06, 2013


Details  Quick growing manure crop or as a sanctuary for predator insects to feed and plan their assaults from. Dig or plough in anytime. Sow from September through to April at a rate of 30g per 10m2 or 1kg per 300m2.
Common name  Phacelia
Botanical name  Phacelia tanacetifolia
Height (m)  1
Date  July 08, 2013
Tags    bees 
Shade / Sun  Full sun
Soil type  Most
Flowers  Purple
The bees are back

The bees are back

This year we have seen an impressive rebound in bee numbers. It is unlikely due to anything we have done but it is wonderful to see them working frantically on all the things we have planted in the last couple of years. So we are helping them in some way.
January 13, 2013
Wild-flowers spreading

Wild-flowers spreading

As part of our commitment to the humble bumble and our general enjoyment of displacing grass, we have established a bunch of micro pioneer gardens. These are bubbles of hardy, self seeding, bee friendly blooms that will (hopefully) expand and spread until they join and fill the available space.
This approach of trying to passively replace grass using seed dispersing annual flowers did not work. Poppies returned for a few seasons before vanishing.
December 14, 2012

Bumblebee nest

Our efforts to create a hospitable environment for bumblebees seems to be paying off. The fuzzy little creatures can be seen on almost any of the numerous types of flowers we have spreading across the property. To top if off we discovered a nest inside the concrete block wall of the chook house and piggery.

There is a contented buzzing humming emanating from the wall and every now and then individuals can be seen bumbling in and out.
November 20, 2012
  Bumblebee  nest  hive 
Stage 1 - Trees, shrubs, ground cover and climbers

Stage 1 - Trees, shrubs, ground cover and climbers

The first part of planting is complete with over 150 new substantial, long lived plants finally in the ground.
Selected species include:
  1. Silk tree
  2. Tree Lucerne
  3. Winter Sweet
  4. European hazelnut
  5. South African tree heath (pictured)
  6. Shining gum
  7. Flowering ash
  8. Hybrid witch hazel
  9. Green flowered hellebore
  10. Golden rain tree
  11. Amur maakia
  12. Kobus magnolia
  13. Fraqgrant epaulette tree
  14. Japanese fodder willow
  15. Chinese sweet box
  16. Chinese wisteria
  17. Black Locust
August 01, 2012
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