Beneficial Insects & more...
[Bladder Cicada] [Blue Banded Bee] [Centipede] [Dragonfly] [Ichneumon wasp]  [Lacewing] [Pointed-nose grasshopper] [Rhinoceros-beetle] [Scorpion]  [Scorpion Fly]  [Stick Insect] [Tachnid-fly] [Wire worm]
Blue banded bee (Amegilla)Blue Banded Bee (Amegilla species)
The latests estimates from the University of Western Australia suggest that the Blue Banded Bee is just one around 30,000 native solitary bees that occur in Australia. Others include the carpenter bee, diamond cuckoo bee, leaf cutter bee and teddy bear bee. All these bees are typically much larger and easier to see and hear than the tiny native colony forming species that are a source of native honey or sugarbag. To attract blue banded bees and other bee species to your garden plant salvias, daisy species and herbs like laverder, salvia, basil and thyme. Avoid using any chemical sprays.

Bladder CicadaCicada
These conspicuous insects are cicadas. They are big and noisy and most likely to be seen and heard over the summer months. Females lay eggs within tree bark. Young insects, which look like miniature versions of the adults, drop to the ground below and burrow into the soil to suck liquid from plant roots. After eating their fill over winter they climb a nearby tree to shed their skin. These are the perfectly formed insect shells you find attached to tree trunks. The ear-piercing sound made by male cicadas is designed to attract a mate and repel predators.

Pointed nose grasshopper


LacewingLacewing eggsLacewing
The green lacewing is the most common lacewing seen by gardeners. It is a highly beneficial insect and should not be confused with the lacebug that sucks the sap from azaleas.

Adult lacewings are attracted to lights and white surfaces. You may have seen its distinctive egg clusters, with each ting white egg hanging from a single filamentous thread. Its lays its eggs in this way to ensure they are out of reach of predators. Most species of lacewings and their larvae are carnivorous, feeding on other insects including scale, aphids, spiders and wasps. Some species of lacewings are mass reared for use as commercial biological control agents in orchards and organic gardens.

Rhinoceros beetle

Rhinocerous beetles are those large black beetles that occur during summer. These beetles snort and hiss but are completely harmless to humans. The male beetles are larger and fight for dominance and mating rights by climbing tree trunks (especially poinciana trees) and pushing their rival off. It is hillarious to watch. The females are also black, but smaller and lack 'horns'. They are commonly associated with bark mulch. The larvae are large white curl grubs.

If you have logs or wood-based mulch in the garden you might be lucky enough to come across one of these amazing scorpions. They are beneficial insects that feed on spiders, beetles and cockroaches and are an indication of a healthy soil ecosystem. They are nocturnal hunters with poor eyesight, but an excellent ability to detect vibration.

Scorpions are not insects, but arachnids just like spiders. Count their legs and you will see that they possess eight legs like spiders rather than six like an insect. The scorpions sting is in its tail. If provoked it can give a painful bite but is not considered dangerous. Never-the-less, it is probably a good reason to wear gloves when working in the garden.

Scorpion FlyScorpion Fly
The presence of scorpion flies can be an indicator of a healthy, balanced garden ecosystem. This predatory insect eats flies, moths and beetles. It sits still and silent while it waits for its prey, then deftly grasps them with its rear legs before literally eating them alive! After mating, female scorpion flies lay eggs in the soil or leaf litter. The larvae feed on organic matter and return to pupate in the ground before emerging as adult flies.

Tachnid fly on roses


Ichneumon waspIchneumon wasp
This image is a beneficial Ichneumon wasp (ick-new-mon) taken by Paula. They are hard to catch in a photo because dart around looking for lawn grubs into which they can lay their eggs. When you see these wasps, you know you have lawn grubs, but you also know nature is controlling them on your behalf. Don't spray anything - even organic - just sit back and watch nature at her biological best. These wasps (harmless to us) are not the problem, they are the answer.
I often comes across centipedes when I am planting (most likely Scolopendrid species). Centipedes are so unique they are classified in a group all of their own - Chilopoda. They are arthropods, so are they are related to insects, spiders and crayfish. Yes, they can bite, but it is not fatal to humans. It bites to paralyze its prey which may be caterpillars, curl grub larvae, spiders and a whole range of other small creatures. They are great pest controllers in the garden and an indication of a healthy environment. Make sure you wear gloves when gardening to avoid being bitten.
Stick insectStick insectStick Insect
Can an insect that voraciously chews leaves be endearing? We often curse caterpillars, but love butterflies. We hate grasshoppers, but marvel at stick insects. I found this young stick insect while pruning. The colour of the undersides of the wings caught my eye. It cannot fly as this stage as the wings are too small, but flashed them as if to scare me off. Stick insects came in a range of sizes and colours. Most camouflage so well against foliage and branches we rarely spot them.
Wire wormWire worm
This tiny creature is most likely a false wire worm (Family Tenebrionidae) or true wireworm (Family Elateridae).  Either way it is the larvae of a beetle, particularly click beetles. I found it while digging quite a dry part of the garden, so was grateful to find any soil life. These larvae have a distinctively shiny skin and quite a hard body. It is not likely to do much damage, so I put it back. They mainly feed on organic matter, so I provided some compost to fatten it up! If you have plague numbers of this type of insect in the vegetable garden you might drench with molasses to stop them chewing seedling roots. See Homemade Pest Control for recipe. Also see cut worms.

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