Pollinators

One of the most important groups of insects are the pollinators. As well as bees and butterflies, many beetles, flies, moths and crickets help pollinate thousands of native plants.

Pollinators will be attracted to any garden or balcony with native flowering plants such as tea tree, everlasting daisies, mint bush or goodenias. Avoid using insecticides, which can quickly create ‘ecological deserts’.

Activity:
Plant a pollinator patch

To attract pollinators, provide a wide range of native flowering plants to feed on. Select a sunny spot and, during autumn or winter, plant ground covers (such as Poas and Dianellas), daisies, tussocks (such as Lomandras), creepers (such as Hardenbergias), shrubs (Prostanthera spp.) and small trees (Leptospermum spp.). You could even add a nesting space for solitary native bees with a bee hotel about 1m above the ground.

Herbivores

Lots of insects (such as grasshoppers, cicadas, caterpillars and stick insects) eat the leaves, stems and roots of plants. To encourage them to your garden, provide lots of food.

Start with ground covers such as Poas, Wallaby Grass and Themeda, add wildflowers such as native daisies, wild geraniums and Goodenias. Then, add shrubs (Acacia spp, Pomaderris spp., Kunzia spp.) and, if you have room, trees (Eucalyptus spp., Allocasuarina spp., Acacia spp.). Finally, finish off by adding some vines and creepers (Pandorea pandorana, Hardenbergia spp.).

Grasshopper

Decomposers

Decomposers, such as the Christmas Beetle or Golden Stag Beetle, are nature’s garbage service. They feed on fallen fruits, leaves, wood and other organic matter, transforming it into nutrient rich soil that plants love.

Unfortunately, decomposers are fast declining because we clean up fallen leaves, fallen fruit and old stumps. To encourage decomposers, set aside a ‘wild’ corner in the backyard where leaves, logs and stumps can decompose.

Activity:
Create a stag-beetle bungalow

Cut up branches and logs of eucalyptus, wattles, banksia, oak, birch, maple, or poplar into pieces 30-60cm long and 5-20cm wide (avoid pines, cedars and cypresses as these can be toxic to stag-beetles). Next, dig a 30cm hole and put stand the wood upright in a bundle in the hole. Fill in the soil so the bases are buried. Heap leaves and old mulch around the bungalow, moisten the soil with water and wait for stag beetles to come!

Parasites

Parasites survive by taking resources from others. They're critical parts of our ecosystems, acting as food for other species and helping to regulate the populations of their hosts.

Some urban parasitic insects are quite easy to find - the galls on the leaves of many plants are caused by parasitic insects dwelling within them. Others are less obvious, such as the alien-looking batflies that live on the bodies of bats.

Supporting parasites can be as simple as planting a wide variety of native plants and providing nesting boxes for bats, possums and birds to support native fleas and batflies.

Common Australian Shining Cockroach - Native Bush species