Make a Difference!
Help the environment by sponsoring a planting in our Insect Conservation Habitat, and you will receive a personalised, named certificate showing the variety of plant/tree you sponsored. What a fantastic gift idea or memorial for a loved one. Sponsorship is only $30.00 which covers the plant, compost and maintenance costs. Contact us for details.
It is our aim to raise awareness of how vital insects are to the health of our planet by providing inspiration and advice on how to encourage biodiversity in your home garden. While many people barely give insects a second thought (unless to think of them as pests), the fact is that humans owe the insect world a huge debt. Without the work of these tiny under-appreciated animals, the Earth would be a very different place. Invertebrates increase soil fertility, break down decaying vegetable & animal matter, pollinate plants and in turn are food for larger animals and birds. Without insects we would literally be up to our ears in poo – surrounded by excrement, dead carcasses and with very little to eat. As for pests, there is only a tiny percentage of the insect population that can be thought of as such. So... we seriously need to be looking after these little guys.
The story is the same for endangered wildlife all around the world, be it bird, plant, mammal, fish or invertebrate. Loss of habitat, competition, predation by introduced species, and pollution are all contributors.
At Earthlore we have set aside approximately 4 acres as a dedicated insect conservation habitat with an established and ongoing planting programme, with a focus on host plants for many of NZ’s “specialist” insects. These are insects whose larvae are limited to only one or two varieties of food plants. With many of these plants now rare or threatened in the wild, the consequence is that not only the plants become endangered, but also the insects that need them for their survival. Some of these endangered plants will be more familiar to gardeners than others, but many have to be sourced through specialist native nurseries, with some now being propagated here at Earthlore.
Examples are Muehlenbeckia species for the copper butterfly, Urtica ferox (or tree nettle) for the red admiral butterfly and Urtica incisa for the yellow admiral. Many of these plants could be included in the home garden, although some may not be practical in a small area.
Our first plantings have become established now, and it is encouraging to see what can be accomplished in a relatively short time. Within just 5 years of planting a large patch of Muehlenbeckia species, we were excited to see a huge increase in the population of copper butterflies flitting about the Conservation Habitat, and with our continued planting insect numbers will recover even more.
Probably the single biggest thing that can be done at home to increase insect life and biodiversity is to abandon the use of pesticides. If nature is left to herself, a balance will be struck. You may have to put up with the odd aphid, but your garden will become a haven for ladybirds and will see an increase in bird visitors. Relax your standards a little and don’t be over tidy. Instead of making a trip to the dump, pile up leaf litter and decaying logs in a corner, and leave a wild patch to grow long grass, wildflowers and weeds. This will provide shelter from the elements, protection from predators, a source of food, and somewhere to hibernate.