Beneficial insects in your garden

Insects that help with pollination and pest control are referred to as beneficial insects.

They are a natural and non-toxic alternative to chemical pesticides, and can help broaden the diversity of our ecosystems. This page lists some of the ways in which beneficial insects can help keep your own garden healthy.

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, however butterflies provide long term.

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 violaceaSwainsona 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.

Pesticides and insecticides

Insecticides and pesticides are frequently used in gardens when plants are visually seen to be under attack by an insect. There is also a large variety of non-toxic to minimally toxic sprays that can be used in the garden. If you understand the life cycles and purpose of the insects that dwell in your garden you will understand that using sprays, no matter what shape or form, can interfere with the natural processes of pest management.

Beneficial insects manage the pest insects in your garden by utilising them as a nutritious food source. Spray kills both pest and beneficial insects and also instigates what is called ‘repeat and resistance’. This is where pest insects develop immunity to the spray and repopulate a lot quicker than beneficial insects.

Sprays can also indirectly affect birds, bats, frogs, lizards and mammals which consume pest insects for food.

Tips for your garden

  • Plant natives that attract beneficial insects and other wildlife that will manage pest insect populations.
  • Ensure water is always available in your garden.
  • Provide rocks, densely planted gardens, logs and mulch as shelter.
  • When removing weeds, do a patched clearing, revegetate that area and let it partly establish, and then move on to the next patch.
  • Make sure your garden isn’t too perfectly tidy.