Excellent resource – Encouraging insects in your garden

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    During 2010 members of the Auckland Branch of the Entomological Society of New Zealand were consulted about ways by which insects and other invertebrates could be encouraged in gardens.

    Firstly they asked what kinds of insects should be encouraged and which should be discouraged. This revealed that some insects could be both desirable or undesirable according to the aims of the gardener. For example the Chinese paper wasp, Polistes chinesis (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) is desirable as a biological agent for caterpillars feeding on vegetables and flowers, but is undesirable for people wishing to encourage monarch butterflies.


    In order to encourage insects and other invertebrates its necessary to provide both food and suitable places for them to live. Basically this requires creating diversity of plants and kinds of habitat. The document on their website (above) provides ideas about how to do this.

    If you have any additional suggestions please contact Nick Martin (Nicholas.Martin@plantandfood.co.nz).

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    Indeed… well put Norm. I feel kindly disposed towards praying mantids (the NZ natives that is!) and don’t regard them as a pest. If I find them near my nettles or swan plants i just move them to where I would prefer them to carry out their work! However I would love to be able to track down and eradicate the wasps (German or common) which are in large numbers here in the garden this summer. I learned a hard lesson with them last week as I was late getting my second crop of U. Urens covered with netting after finding quite a few admiral caterpillars on them. To my dismay the wasps were busy hunting out the caterpillars and were completely undeterred by my swiping at them with a stick. They just kept returning time and time again and managed to carry off caterpillars before I could get the netting over the plants. The remaining ones are now safely in the caterpillar castle!



    The problem of trying to keep your garden free of “undesirable” creatures depends on your interests.  My problem at home was birds, I love to see the fantails, silver eyes and tui coming and going in my garden, but the blackbirds and thrushes were a problem, taking my ripe blueberries, strawberries, and now the grapes that are ripening.  So rather than try to discourage the blackbirds and thrushes it was easier to place a mesh covered frame over the strawberries and blueberry bushes and cover the grape vine with a fine mesh net  – – -problem solved.   OK the odd one or two berries or grapes get filched by enterprising birds that figure out clever ways of reaching through the mesh, but I don’t begrudge them the odd one as they do a great job of ridding other pests such as slugs and snails.  Raising caterpillars is similar, rather than trying  to exclude or kill the “pests’ in your garden that predate the caterpillars just protect the caterpillars by using frames or nets over the hostplants.  The odd caterpillar may still get taken but the majority will be safe, remember those predators will also help keep down spiders and  cabbage white caterpillars on the garden veges, and still help to maintain a balance in nature.

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