March 19, 2021 2 min read
Here’s a guide to just some of the many insects that offer huge benefits to the health of our precious outdoor space.
In Britain we have approximately 270 species of bee. From the honey bees and bumblebees, and also the lesser known solitary bee. These, as the name suggests, do not live in colonies, and make up the majority of our species here. They are excellent pollinators.
Whilst caterpillars can be more of a pest, munching their way through our plants and vegetable patch, the adults are beautiful pollinators. They are also an important part of the food chain for our birds and bats.
These are carnivorous beetles, which sounds a lot more intimidating than they look. The number of spots on their distinctive shell can vary between 2 and 18. Ladybirds eat aphids and red spider mites, helping to control the numbers of these destructive pests.
These are often confused with wasps because of the yellow and black pattern, however these do not sting, and can be identified because of the lack of distinctive wasp shape (large abdomen and small waist). Hoverflies should be welcomed in gardens as they are both pollinators, and pest controllers. Their larvae consume large numbers of aphids and other pests.
Whilst this is a wasp, this particular species does not sting. They are excellent at controlling pest numbers in your garden by laying their eggs in or on them. After the eggs hatch, the larva can eat the host insect before maturing into an adult. Their efficiency at controlling pest numbers has lead them to be produced on an industrial scale to be used as pest control in agricultural fields and greenhouses.
Another predator, but for larger pests. Ground beetles love slugs and snails. When they locate their prey they vomit digestive enzymes on to them to make them easier to eat. Not the most appetising image, but provides a natural alternative to slug pellets.
Centipedes hunt for prey above and below the soil using their highly effective antennae. They will consume a wide range of garden pests, such as slugs, woodlice and flies, amongst many others.