During this week's Garden Club we explored creatures that are beneficial to a garden environment. The children brainstormed lists of things they knew to be beneficial. Their knowledge was quite extensive. They know that bees and butterflies are pollinators, worms help aerate the soil, ladybugs eat aphids, and birds will eat bugs from the garden. We discussed that besides praying mantis being our state insect, they also will eat harmful insects from the garden.
A lesser known fact among the children was that toads can consume 10,000 insects in a single season. That got them thinking that maybe we should invite some toads to live in our garden. They use recycled flower pots to create "toad houses" in an attempt to invite these fun critters to dine from our ever growing nature habitat. To learn more about toads check out this fun link to the Easy Science for Kids website.
|decorating toad houses.|
Here are some of the beneficial insects taking up residence in our school garden.
|mating praying mantis|
The praying mantis can reach up to 5" in length. Their heads can turn up to 180 degrees and their large eyes are perfect for spotting prey. They are ambush hunters which means they don't actively go looking for food. They will wait somewhere and pounce on prey when it comes near them. They aren't picky about what they eat either. They will eat butterflies and bees as easily as garden pests. They will also eat their own species. Very large mantis have been known to eat small salamanders, frogs, and birds!
Assassin bugs use their long "beak" to pierce prey and inject it with lethal toxins that kill the insect within a few seconds. That same toxin will liquefy the insides of the prey which will then be drunk by the assassin bug.
|ladybug or ladybird beetle|
Ladybugs can complete their life cycle from egg to adult in as little as 4-7 weeks. During that short lifetime a single ladybug can eat as many as 5000 aphids.
|busy pollinating bee|
The key to attracting beneficial insects to your garden is creating a diverse ecosystem and providing plenty of areas for habitats. If you would like to learn more about inviting beneficials to your own garden check out this article from Mother Earth News.
The warm weather we are having is finally making everything pop in the garden. Here are our latest progress shots.
|walking stick kale|
The last Garden Club of the school year will be held June 9. We will be doing some summer session activities but very differently than last year. Follow us on Facebook to find out when we will be hosting summer garden activities. Facebook link