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Butterflies, Insects, Spiders and Bugs

Sword Grass Brown butterfly

If you have spent a summer's day in the outdoors you will know that there is no shortage of invertebrates in Victoria. Butterflies, cicacdas, beetles, mosquitoes, spiders, dragonflies, flies and bees are all common throughout the State.

Invertebrates are fascinating and essential to the wellbeing of our natural and agricultural communities. Many species pollinate the flowers of plants or serve as a food source for other animals. Some recycle nutrients from decaying plant and animal matter while others aerate the soil through their burrowing activity.

Butterflies

Butterflies bring colour and movement to wildlife gardens as they pollinate plants in their search for nectar. Unfortunately, loss of habitat threatens almost half of Victoria's 120 butterfly species. Wildlife gardens offer them food and refuge.

In order to attract butterflies it is important to provide food for both adults and caterpillars. Native daisies, grasses, lomandras, sedges, acacias, goodenias and eucalypts are all suitable.

Butterflies feed in open, sunny locations that feature a variety of flowering shrubs, grasses, trees and groundcovers. Because different butterflies feed on different plants growing at varying heights, a butterfly garden can include rockeries, mounds and raised beds.

A butterfly garden provides an attractive floral landscape of yellow, purple, red and white that blossoms during the warmer months of the year. A spectacular cottage garden can be developed using a range of indigenous plants.

Detailed information on creating your own habitat for attracting butterflies can be found in the factsheets at the bottom of this page.

Native Bees

Australia has over 1500 species of native bees that have evolved side by side with Australian plants. They are valuable pollinators of native plants and home fruit and veggie gardens. Some native bees do not sting, those that do are solitary, non-aggressive and too small to give an effective sting.

Download our Native Bees factsheet below.

Beetles and Worms

A garden with beetles and worms is a healthy garden and garden mulch plays a very important part. Mulch feeds the soil as it is broken down by invertebrates such as millipedes, slaters and earthworms, creating habitat for soil dwelling predators such as ground beetles, spiders and centipedes. The increase in life underground will then provide food for small lizards and frogs and will encourage insectivorous birds to visit.

Spiders

Spiders are classified in the Arachnid family in a larger group called Arthropods – the name means jointed legs and represents 90% of all animal species. Arthropods include insects, crayfish, centipedes and lots of others. They all have a hard exoskeleton and as they grow this is shed (moulted) several times.

Arachnids are named after a Greek legend and include spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites. They have 2 main body parts: cephalothorax (head/chest) and abdomen and 4 pairs of legs. Spiders are distinguished by having spinnerets (organs for silk production) at the rear of the abdomen.

Spiders live throughout the world in every place except Polar Regions and the oceans. There are about 2000 Australian spider species that have been formally described which is estimated to be about half the total number.

Not all spiders hunt by using their web to entrap prey, others lurk and wait in burrows or leaf litter and ambush prey. Some even kill other spiders.

There are many good things about spiders: they have unique genetics like any other part of nature and have an intrinsic right to live; they eat insects - which can be useful in a garden and in agriculture; they are fascinating and some are even beautiful. Both their venom and silk are being used in medical research (stroke treatment), pest control (insect specific pesticides) and fibre technology (transgenic biosilk production). They are less likely to bite you if you leave them alone and enjoy them.

References:

St Andrews Cross spider
Dragonfly
Butterfly common imperial blue
Heliotrope Moth
Butterfly Dingy Swallowtail
Butterfly Imperial White
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