beneficial bugs

Buying a box of bugs

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Whitefly (and a caterpillar) on the underside of our cucumber leaves
Whitefly (and a caterpillar) on the underside of our cucumber leaves

Sydney’s warm weather promotes the spread of a hundred types of bugs, most of which seem to love our pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchini.

This includes whitefly, which can multiply to plague proportions, covering the underside of every large leaf in the garden. Whereupon they proceed to suck the life out of the plants.

This tube contains 10,000 beneficial bugs (!), delivered in the mail
This tube contains 10,000 beneficial bugs (!), delivered in the mail

So with the refrain of “whitefly, begone!”, I ordered a box of bugs. Montdorensis to be specific, which feed on whitefly and thrips (of various sorts).

The thrips are too tiny to see in the vermiculite mix
The thrips are too tiny to see in the vermiculite mix

A small cardboard tube contains 10,000 of these good bugs, and I’m hoping that they’ll establish a permanent presence in our garden (apparently they feed on mites and pollen when thrips are absent).

Good hunting little bugs!

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Creating an insect hotel

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Our new insect hotel, in place on the fence
Our new insect hotel, in place on the fence

Creating an “insect hotel” has been on my to-do list for a while now. The idea is a simple one: create a habitat for beneficial bugs to hibernate and breed in. The result should be more of the good bugs, leading to less of the bad bugs.

The great blog post on insect hotels by Inspiration Green was my starting point. This showed the huge diversity of shapes, sizes and materials of insect hotels.

The raw materials.
The raw materials.

My starting materials were a few pieces of well-aged firewood, and some handy bamboo garden edging from Bunnings.

The outside frame was made from cut-down 90x45mm pine, still left over from the renovation. The wood and bamboo was cut to 90mm long to match.

The two slow bits were drilling all the holes (6-9mm in size), and then gluing it all together.

It makes for an attractive addition to the garden!
It makes for an attractive addition to the garden!

The result is not just useful, but beautiful (I think so at least). It looks great on the side fence of our house. And as it’s visible from the street, it’s yet another item of interest for passerbyers.

Have insects already made a home?
Have insects already made a home?

The really encouraging thing is that a few of the holes have already been filled — so hopefully this means some friendly bugs have already made a home!