Backyard biodiversity

A garden with a diversity of plants will be a garden with

a diversity of insects and other invertebrates.

This whole wonderful diversity of life - plant and animal - is an ecosystem. A thriving ecosystem is

treat to observe: beautiful butterflies, hoverflies, native bees, ladybirds
, moths, gorgeous caterpillars,

intriguing and lovely wasps, a multitude of different flies, birds, lizards and more.

A thriving ecosystem is also
one of the best ways of minimising trouble with pests.

Aphids are preyed upon by the larvae of hoverflies, lacewings and ladybirds. Predatory wasps

parasitise caterpillars. Dragonflies are hunters par excellence of mosquitoes and other flying insects.

Fungus-eating ladybirds eat the powdery mildew on zucchini leaves.

With a garden buzzing with insect life you are much less likely to need to resort to spraying pesticides.

In fact, once you've observed the tiny creatures at work, you'll be very reluctant to spray because of the

risk of killing off the helpful insects as well as the pests.

Filling your garden with a wide variety of flowering plants, with something flowering at every time of the

year, encourages beneficial insects. Different insects prefer different types of flowers, so aim for a mix of

flower forms and colours: daisies, tubular or trumpet-shapes. Include day- and night-scented varieties,

and some of your local indigenous species to encourage native insects.

Below is a gallery showing just some of the insects and other creatures found in this eastern suburbs

garden. A small pond, bird baths, tall stringy barks, fruit trees, flowering shrubs, both native and exotic,

vegetables, annual and perennial flowering plants and native grasses provide habitat for these and

many more.

Clerid beetles on rose
Common grass blue butterfly
Wandering ringtail damselfly
Hoverfly on calendula
Hoverfly larva and aphids
Brown lacewing
Brown lacewing larva with aphids
Common dart butterfly on parsley
Common grass blue butterfly
Female huntsman with egg case
Australian admiral butterfly
Beetle on coriander
Native drone fly
King parrot (juvenile)
Cabbage white butterfly
Black and yellow striped
ichneumon wasp
Vine moth caterpillar
Painted lady butterfly
Gwen the hen
Bee on basil
Young butcherbird
Caterpillar of brown moth
Newly emerged dragonfly
Fly on coriander
Blue-tongue lizard
Painted lady
Common dart
Dainty swallowtail caterpillar
Green lacewing
Praying mantis
Eastern spinebill
Pintail on coriander
Parasitic wasp cocoons on kale
Metallic Jewel Bug
Scutiphora pedicellata
Dragonfly - Blue-spotted Hawker Adversaeschna brevistyla
Tawny Frogmouth

Especially with good rainfall, flowering can be exuberant in spring and early summer. This in

turn brings an abundance of insect life to the garden. In late summer there are still new insects to be

spotted in the garden: many species of predatory - and beautiful - wasps, butterflies, dragonflies,

native blue-banded bees, several species of damsel flies and more.

Orb weaver spiders build their intricate webs, often across paths so one must look carefully when

wandering in the garden at night or risk not only being draped with sticky web, but ruining a spider's

painstaking workmanship. St Andrews Cross spiders are more circumspect and build their webs

among bushes.

Skinks laid eggs in warm, secluded places - like under a bale of straw left sitting on the lawn - and in

late summer they are hatching so tiny ones can be seen scuttling to safety if disturbed during their


Some species, of course, are not so popular with gardeners because of the destruction they can wreak

on carefully tended vegetables, fruit and flowers. However, in a garden with rich plant diversity, there will

hopefully be a good range of predatory species to keep aphids, vegetable bugs and the like under


A diverse garden provides a wonderful opportunity to observe not only the huge diversity of insects and

other small creatures, but the interactions between them and the plants they live on and among.